Tourism specialists and ATB discuss strategies to boost tourism in Africa
Polar Tourism in conjunction with the African Tourism Board have discussed a series of new initiatives that would boost tourism in Africa post COVID-19, focusing on new projects that would attract domestic, intra-African and international tourists.
Panelists and contributors to the virtual discussion held last Sunday said that African needs to brand itself as a leading tourist destination, to compete with the other continents in the world.
With a theme “The African Tourism Showcase”, two hour-plus discussion had attracted participants to discuss the new plans that would make Africa more attractive and tourist-vibrant.
Among the areas touched were the new tourist products including Freedom Routes in which tourists could travel through prominent places where Freedom Fighters in South Africa stayed or operated while fighting for their freedom.
These thrilling routes could also expose to visitors, the places where freedoms fighters including Nelson Mandela were arrested and jailed.
Among these areas is Durban where the first president of India Mahatma Gandhi had launched Indian freedom movement then fought for against injustice and class division in South Africa.
Gandhi arrived in Durban in 1893 then became the leader of the South African Indian community.
Other tourist attractions are trips to Cape Town, vineyards and wine testing. Sports teams are among the groups encouraged to visit South African tourist sites on their tournaments.
Lowveld Escarpment in Mpumalanga, horseback safaris in Eswatini and Lesotho are the kind of tourists activities under a spotlight in Southern Africa.
On tourist services, a panelist from Ntwanano Safaris in South Africa said that his company had tailored special, eight-day safaris for the blind and visually impaired people.
Trips for the deaf, blind and other physically impaired people are organized by the company with specialized equipment and trained guides to help those people feel and enjoy their visits to various places where the company operates.
Ntwanano Safaris support Blind and Visually Impaired visitors by reaching out to people with disabilities so as to share a rare offering in the Travel and Tourism Industry.
The company engages its specialist guides and staff to support disabled people to take part on specialized Tours of the Kruger National Park and other tourist attractions in and around the Mpumalanga province of South Africa.
Discussions between the African Tourism Board (ATB) and Polar Projects had targeted Hotels, Safaris and Tour Companies with operations in Africa.
In his opening remarks, ATB Chairman Mr. Cuthbert Ncube said that Africa needs to brand itself as a tourist destination.
“Africa suffers from Brand perception problem. It is seen from International sources markets as one contagious destination when in fact it is a conglomerate of fifty-five countries”, Ncube said.
“We have Fifty five Brands and Fifty Five stories to tell. Our unique history and natural wonders are gaining attention amid the locals with global increase in cultural heritage”, he noted.
Ncube said that development of tourism is a clear testament that Africa presents a tremendous promise to become and remain a vibrant host for tourists, investors and entrepreneurs which are a major drive for employment and economic inclusion to this continent.
“United we Stand. Divided we Fall. Africa without any doubt is the next opportunity continent. It demonstrated its resilience even in the face of Covid-19 pandemic, said the ATB Chairman.
“Lets us turn into positive story as we do so, always mindful of the value chain that is Visit, Trade and Invest in Africa”, he added.
On the role of Africans in Diaspora, Mr. Ncube stressed that all trade and investment intentions by African professionals and business leaders in Diaspora will and should start with a visit to the continent be physical or virtual.
Africa’s attractiveness will be borne out on inclusive of a socio-political and economic models that integrates the Diaspora into daily decisions of the continent giving them the vote to connect all Africans in Diaspora immediately, he said.
Integration of Africans in Diaspora will build one way out of remittances that will transcend to social and economic interests.
Ghana has demonstrated its willingness to integrating its returning citizens, a demonstration that should and must be emulated across African continent.
Rwanda has made it possible and easy for continental investors by easing and offering free visas for African travelers, with Seychelles, Benin, Senegal, Uganda, Togo, Mauritania, and Guinea Bissau taking positive steps to ease travel protocols for Africans.
“We need to see a more syndicate integrated approach across the continent and involve ourselves in working to view our world from different angles. Our eyes, minds, hearts are open, something that we should value to make Africa the best tourist destination in the world”, Ncube concluded in his remarks to virtual participants.