In an enthralling end to the return of Africa’s Travel Indaba held in Durban from 2-5 May, delegates, participants, and experts gave organizers thumbs up for not only bringing to the fore Africa’s unique and diverse gastronomic offering but another first of serving African dishes at the start of the session on gastronomy.
Returning after a 2-year hiatus to the KwaZulu-Natal Province, Africa’s Travel Indaba changed tack and evolved to inculcate discussions seen as nagging for the tourism and cultural sectors in Africa.
Featuring two of the chefs profiled in UNWTO’s Tour of African Gastronomy, Chef Bamba Moussa from Cote d’Ivoire, Chef Isaac Sckey from Ghana, sustainability champion Judy Kepher- Gona, solo traveller, Boipelo Hlubi, key and one of Africa’s most celebrated Chefs, Chef Coco and moderated by Thebe Ikalafeng, the conversation on how to make African cuisines a core part of our narrative was widely the conclusion all came to.
The thought-provoking session also explored how Africa could push to protect some of the traditional cuisines and ultimately be named as part of UNESCOs’ s intangible cultural assets.
You are sure the unending debate around the best Jollof Rice will not go unmentioned and Ghanaian Chef Isaac Sackey pontificated on why Ghana serves the best version of the popular West African cuisine.
South Africa’s Chef Coco Reinharz opined those African chefs and stakeholders in the gastronomy industry should rather see the gastronomy through the lenses of evolution rather than object to new innovations which can uplift and make African cuisines the most sought after.
The Regional Director for Africa at the United Nations World Tourism Organization (UNWTO) Elcia Grandcourt was full of praise for the organizers for identifying gastronomy as a key topic to be part of the tourism conversation.
She affirmed UNWTO’s commitment to helping its member states to place gastronomy as a key product segment within the tourism ecosystem.
‘’Another key initiative, we have been driving in the last year is African Gastronomy – Gastronomy is a growing motivation to travel; it adds value to the destination, and promotes local products and know-how (the links with agriculture). By placing gastronomy as one of the priorities for product development and marketing, would allow for stories to be told and to showcase the people behind them; making us value local products).’’ Ms. Grandcourt said.
“The promotion of African Gastronomy and activities that bind cultures and people are examples which bring added visibility to destinations through its people. Over the past two days, most speakers in their intervention have reminded us that people are at the core of our business. Cultural and intangible heritage, including gastronomy, represents an integral part of a country’s identity and history providing major opportunities for Africa to revitalize and diversify the industry and to promote local economic development by involving different professional sectors,” she added.
Sustainability champion and Founder of Sustainable Travel and Tourism Agenda (STTA) Judy Kepher- Gona said ”Unlocking the potential of Gastronomic tourism in Africa will start with an appreciation of this opportunity by tourism operators who promote Africa to Africa and the world. The untapped potential of gastronomic tourism in Africa is denying communities the most needed tourism revenue. The answer lies with destination marketers. The lack of awareness and appreciation of Africa’s gastronomic diversity is driven by tourism business preferences and not consumer choices.”
Watch the session here