Domestic tourism can help unlock many benefits in Africa, not only economically, but also through the creation of a culture of pride amongst its inhabitants – pride of their country and pride of their continent.
“It’s crucial that we get our own people to travel our own country and continent for them to become brand ambassadors for their own country,” said Mmatšatši Ramawela, CEO of the Tourism Business Council of South Africa (TBCSA) during a panel discussion about domestic tourism at Indaba.It’s crucial that we get our own people to travel our own country and continent for them to become brand ambassadors for their own country,” said Mmatšatši Ramawela Click To Tweet
Tesa Chikaponya, Executive Director with the Zimbabwe National Convention Bureau, explained during the discussion at Indaba that domestic travel can help overcome challenges when countries experience a dip in international travel. To develop domestic tourism, Chikaponya says it’s important to develop a culture of saving. She raised the possibility of packaging travel deals on credit in a ‘fly now, pay later’ arrangement.
Lindiwe Mthethwa, African Sun Hotels as Sales Manager, suggested that it might be easier to have people pay off a holiday associated with great memories than it is for them to save towards once – especially since there seems to be a lack of a ‘travel culture’ around the continent.
If tourism players want to attract the local market, they need to familiarise themselves with local trends. “Travel has changed so much, and there is so much noise out there,” said Annareth Bolton, CEO of Stellenbosch Wine Routes, adding that tourism players need to identify their unique selling points and create a unique visual story. “Deliver moments of inspiration.”
Chikaponya explained that one way to play into local trends is to set up events that will draw local visitors. She mentioned the Victoria Falls Carnival as a successful example of the eventing trend in local tourism. Since its inception, the New Year music festival has attracted a vast number of Zimbabweans, as well as a growing number of international visitors.
The panellist agreed that to develop a successful climate for domestic and regional tourism, the travel industry needs to stop working in silos. Bolton said: “We need to make sure we’re seen and to achieve that cooperation is important. We can wait for government, and we can wait for DMOs to make things happen and we will wait forever. Instead, let’s work together.”
Ramawela concluded the session by saying: “Travelling in our own country will be the one thing that is going to make this country, but also our Africa, the tourism destination in the world.