The 2021 Brand Africa Conference is underway in Namibia where UNWTO Secretary General, Zurab Pololikashvili has urged Africans to use their storytelling ability to promote tourism on the continent.
In a brief remarks delivered by him at the welcome cocktail for delegates, Pololikashvili said, “As we restart tourism, we must use the power of story-telling to showcase Africa to the world. It is important to get everyone on board – from governments to small businesses. Everyone has a role to play in building a new narrative for tourism and promoting Brand Africa to the world. I am encouraged to see such interest and determination.
“I am also encouraged by African tourism’s long history of adapting and embracing innovation. This will be more important than ever as we restart and ensure the benefits of tourism are felt far beyond the sector itself.”
Stressing the point, the Secretary General said in his Opening Address of the Conference said that both individual destinations and the continent as a whole have stories to tell.
“It is time for them to own the narrative around African tourism. Positive stories will inspire people from all around the world to come to this continent – to explore, the experience, and to give back,” he emphasised.
He commended the Namibian government for remaining focused on the importance of tourism and for continuing to support the work of UNWTO.
“After being kept apart by the pandemic for so long, this was the first country in Africa I returned to last year. It was clear then – just as it is clear now – that Namibia has the potential to be a top tourism destination. What’s more, there is a real determination to use the power of tourism to drive development and create opportunity. And this is true across the whole of Africa.”
He said the rationale for ‘Advocating for Brand Africa’ as one of the priorities of the UNWTO Agenda for Africa is to raise the brand awareness of the continent.
“This is a continent of landscapes like nothing you can see anywhere else on Earth. It is a place of incredible cultural and natural diversity. And Africa’s cities are alive with youthful energy.
However, as we know, Africa’s tourism potential has yet to be fully realized.
There are a number of reasons for this – including, for example, issues of safety and security for tourists, and the cost and ease of travel between African destinations. One key factor is low brand awareness among global tourists,” Pololikashvili averred.
In this regard, a session of the ongoing conference is dedicated to discussing the Advocating Brand Africa draft Action Plan which according to the Secretary General, “is the result of excellent partnerships between the CEOs of National Tourism Boards.”
The Regional Conference: Strengthening Brand Africa for the Swift recovery of the Tourism Sector, is being held in Windhoek, Namibia from 14 to 16 June 2021.
Story by: Samuel Obeng Appah