Whilst tourism continues to be one of the fastest-growing and most dynamic sectors of Africa’s economy, according to the Africa Tourism Monitor 2015, it is not without challenges.
In Africa, tourism contributes to the region’s economy through provision of jobs to thousands of people, thus enhancing regional economic growth and reduction of poverty.
Produced by the African Development Bank (AfDB) in partnership with New York University Africa House, and the Africa Travel Association (ATA), the report applauds the efforts made to sustain the growth of tourism witnessed in 2014. However, the report recognizes that “sustained research and data generation to create the necessary knowledge base for effective decision making, policy formulation, and implementation in support of tourism” is important for economic growth and development.
With this in mind, the “Unlocking Africa’s Tourism Potential” report has put forward a few considerations, if well implemented, can see a change in the growth curve for the sector.
Here are a few ways through which Africa can maintain this momentum and encourage more people to travel to the region by introducing subsidies, and encouraging families and groups to travel to Africa by creating enticing packages.
Encourage Development of Low-Volume Safari Products at a Mid-Range Price Point
When targeting multi-dynamic groups like families, budget is of key importance. To attract these groups to the continent, governments and other concerned stakeholders should introduce mid-range packages.
Although the market for low-volume, high-priced safari products is thriving, for Africa to benefit fully from tourism, it should consider the introduction of mid-priced tours.
The well-laid out, intimate and significant experiences can nudge more family-oriented or larger groups of people to travel for adventure among other reasons.
Support Easier-Access to New Destinations across Africa
One of the major challenge in the tourism sector is infrastructure, especially when it comes to emerging destinations.
Accessibility to these non-traditional destinations is poor making it difficult for travelers to comfortably enjoy the scenery and experiences.
If governments can introduce better access through direct bound transfers or adding scheduled flights to the destinations with poor accessibility, operators could be encouraged to include the new destinations to itineraries across Africa.
Moreover, this will introduce new destinations to families and groups that are looking for their unique African experience, far from what they already know.
Many people have not visited the non-traditional destinations due to poor accessibility.
Harness Digital Marketing to Share Family Travel Stories in Africa
Understanding what entices family travelers will cause the industry to package the right messages to the targeted group(s). When it comes to passing information across families, word of mouth is much more trusted and appreciated.
Africa travel industry should encourage visiting families to share their African stories with the rest of the world.
Social media and digital marketing therefore become great tools for the industry to exploit. Stakeholders in the industry can create strategic digital media campaigns targeting family travelers. Additionally, travelling families and groups can be encouraged to share their stories to entice others to tour.
Using digital marketing is an added advantage to the sector because it reaches a wider target group, within a short period of time with minimal cost implications.
Transform tourism product into an experience that visitors can be proud of
Imagine being part of a group that is helping to tally animals at a park. Wouldn’t that be a great African experience?
Tourism should be transformed from just sightseeing to experiences that tourists will appreciate and most probably want to be a part of in the future.
By involving them in activities to generate meaningful data and information for the management, the experience for the travelers become more exciting.
Tourists can also be involved in conservation efforts by encouraging them not to buy wildlife products but instead be part of the global movement to conserve the wild and the environment.
Encourage forums to discuss and share on conservation efforts
Participatory efforts like conservation forums targeting different stakeholders including rangers, tourists, artists, community members, diplomats, university students and children should be heartened.
In these forums, speakers share their experiences, efforts and recommendations towards conservation. Platforms like Open Space Technology have been used in the past to help bring people together, to share widely on conservation.
In July 2015, a forum dubbed “Creating a Generation of Wildlife Warriors” hosted by Wildlife Direct brought various people from all sectors of society to discuss the role of young people in conservation, share their conservation priorities and to give recommendations.
In September 2016, world leaders will meet at the next CITES conference to make decisions on trade in endangered species.
The future of world’s heritage depends highly on the conservation efforts Africa and the rest of the world put to protect the endangered species and the environment in the region.
Africa is growing fast. Nonetheless, even as Africa is developing infrastructure to improve accessibility and transport system in the region, the construction projects should not threaten the wild that brings millions of people to Africa. Human development efforts have been a major challenge for the wild. Infrastructure in the wilderness should be such that it does not disturb the animals and their habitat.