How to Start an Astro-tourism Business

Tourism is a significant contributor to the African economy, with the industry generating approximately $169 billion pre-pandemic in 2018. In the same year, according to the World Travel and Tourism Council (WTTC), the tourism industry supported around 24.3 million jobs in Africa. Astrotourism is a unique opportunity for Africa to diversify its tourism offerings and attract a new segment of travelers using a resource that is already readily available – a dark, starry night sky.

Astrotourism businesses come in many forms, including observatories, planetariums, and outdoor stargazing tours and setups. Indoor facilities like observatories contain telescopes, and planetariums are popular for their simulations of the night sky and celestial events. Outdoor stargazing tours, on the other hand, involve taking visitors outside to look at the stars, where they can observe the stars and planets with their eyes or with telescopes. You can extend these ideas further and get creative – any activity that involves the night sky or themes of the stars and celestial bodies could be considered Astrotourism. From stargazing on wildlife safaris, Astrotourism in wellness retreats, and dinners or drinks under the stars, there are many ways to use the stars to complement and enhance tourism offerings.

If you are considering starting an Astrotourism business in Africa, there are a few things to keep in mind. The type of astrotourism activity you offer, whether it’s indoors or outdoors, will affect the equipment and skills people need. For indoor activities, such as observatories and planetariums, you often need to have telescopes, projectors, and other specialised equipment. You may also need to train staff in the skills required to operate the equipment and provide visitors with information about the night sky.

For outdoor activities like stargazing tours, you will need staff who are knowledgeable about the night sky and can provide visitors with interesting facts and information. This information can be scientific in nature but can also include local cultural perspectives of the stars and planets. You will also need to have access to dark skies in a safe area and may decide on additional equipment to augment the experience like telescopes, binoculars, or star maps. Make sure to have a backup version of your activity that can be carried out indoors in case of bad weather, since the sky is not always clear. You might consider preparing a presentation or talk that can be given indoors in case going outside is not an option.

Another important factor to consider is the legal and regulatory requirements for an Astrotourism business. You may need to obtain permits and licenses from relevant authorities, such as the tourism board and local governments, so be sure to research these carefully. You will also need to comply with safety regulations and may need liability insurance to protect your business and visitors.

A critical consideration to reflect on before you start to tailor and develop your idea is the target market for your Astrotourism business. It helps to identify the type of travelers you want to attract, such as families, adventure seekers, or educational groups. If you can craft your business to target the needs and interests of people who already visit your area for other kinds of tourism activities, you have a good chance of being successful.

Astrotourism is a growing trend in the travel industry, and Africa presents a unique opportunity to develop Astrotourism businesses with low existing competition and an abundance of dark skies. Whether you choose to operate an observatory, planetarium, or stargazing tour, it’s essential to consider the type of activity you offer, equipment and skills people need, legal and regulatory requirements, and your target market. By doing so, you can create an exciting and profitable Astrotourism business that showcases the beauty of the African night sky.

The Global Partnership for Sustainable Tourism reported that Astrotourism has experienced significant growth in recent years, with an estimated 20 million people participating in stargazing activities each year. As more people seek unique and immersive travel experiences, Astrotourism is likely to continue to grow in popularity, particularly in places like Africa that have pristine dark skies.

If you would like more information about Astrotourism, or resources and support for an Astrotourism business, email