Tourism always played a big role in developing economies, strengthening bilateral agreements between countries and opening up travellers to new experiences. However the covid19 pandemic has left a shock wave of uncertainty and anguish and it was estimated last year that the African continent could lose almost $120 billion in travel and tourism revenues due to the outbreak. So far the loss has been tremendous indeed but new developments could give our industry fresh perspectives on ways to move forward. Phakamile Hlazo is a South African tourism entrepreneur and the founder of inAfrica Travel, an up and coming online marketplace showcasing local tours and experiences. Below are the main trends which she predicts, will impact the continent’s tourism industry in the upcoming months.
The rise of domestic and regional leisure travellers. With some international destinations still inaccessible due to covid-19, travellers who would typically have holidayed internationally will now start looking at alternatives either in their own country or elsewhere in Africa. Exploring our continent looks safer, even more appealing than before and it will give locals an opportunity to contribute to their countries’ economy.
A clear shift in African DMOs strategies.We can anticipate changes in the way African destinations will position themselves to intentionally attract African travellers. We will see more Afrocentric marketing campaigns and content on social media and websites. Prices and offers will also be tailored to attract more local travellers. Affordability is a luxury on its own, one that local travellers will now have easier access to. This is also the main reason behind the creation of inAfrica: we wish to provide a safe, user-friendly and affordable trading platform for our local suppliers and tourists who wish to explore our continent.
Another trend we are looking forward to, is the availability of funding for tourism-tech and travel-tech startups on the continent. The recently launched Tourism Grassroots Program by TIA and the Department of Tourism in South Africa is evidence that African counties are moving in the right direction. Bold initiatives such as this one will attract private investors who in the past, have been more focused on sectors like fintech or Agritech. Technological advancements in Africa will not only improve travellers’ experiences but also help our industry adjust to any future disruptions.
In line with the global trend towards sustainability and social equity, we can anticipate that investors will play a significant role in the recovery of the African tourism industry in the next 2 years. Investors and communities who are ready to contribute to rebuilding a more sustainable and inclusive tourism industry in Africa, will make the most out of this opportunity. No man is an island; therefore, our industry needs all the help that it can get.
One thing is certain: the ball is rolling and all eyes are on Africa, to see which strategies will be implemented to survive the crisis and come out of it victorious. Focusing on the above-mentioned trends could be a good starting point.