Tourism needs effective marketing and branding in Africa

 Friday, June 15, 2018 

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South AfricaAlthough much has been said about the political and economic realities of Africa, a sector which has been largely overlooked and neglected is tourism. For many African countries, tourism plays a significant role in the economy and with the world deepening its inter-connectivity, the continent displays considerable opportunity, if captured in the right way.

 
Africa has lots to offer, right from picture-perfect beaches and great open savannahs to bustling metropolises full of culture.

 
However, it is indeed sad that most non-Africans travelling the continent make use of tourism either only for business, or for humanitarian purposes.

 
Africa is still not known to many as a viable holiday destination and as per the UNWTO, it received only 4.2 percent of the world’s tourists last year.

 
Interestingly, the best way to clarify these low figures is by looking less at tangible assets like infrastructure and power and more at intangible assets like perceptions and stereotypes.

 
Africa’s failure to market itself as a potential destination has been overwhelmingly defined by media images of conflict, poverty and disease.

 
Thankfully, people like Taleb Rifai, the ex-Secretary-General of UNWTO, remain positive about the future while recognizing the issues at hand.

 
“Tourism in Africa is still very novel but it is catching up quickly,” said Rifai. “The important thing is that the growth rate in Africa is higher than anywhere else in the world.”

 
Currently, Africa witnesses between 60 and 65 million tourists per year but Rifai predicts that this figure will more than double to 150 million by 2030.

 
A large and often overlooked explanation of this anticipated growth is the ever-increasing importance of the Chinese market in all aspects of African affairs.

 
Rifai said, “All in all, I think African countries do not take the Asian market too seriously. The over-dependence on the traditional North American and European markets has to be revisited.”

 
Chinese tourists have clearly taken to Africa as a tourist destination.

 

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