To increase its share of the tourism business, Africa will have to liberalize air flight and visa regimes. In the formerly communist country of Georgia, for example, it is not necessary to acquire a visa for visitors who come from countries with a GDP per capita of $10,000 or more. Compare the Georgian system to the difficulty of entering many African countries or, for that matter, the difficulty of leaving African countries like the Democratic Republic of Congo, where one has to run a gauntlet of security and other checks—informal and formal.
I wonder how many visitors from rich coun- tries to Africa have been put off by the challenge of just getting to the continent or getting a visa. Yet I suspect that few, if any, overstay their welcome. The number of tourists to Georgia has nearly quintupled from 2003 to 2009—a war with Russia notwithstanding.
Mauritanian visas require an invitation or sponsor, can take up to several months to process, and must be obtained prior to travel.