By Ben Kangwa
The recent Washington DC Travel and Adventure Show held at the prestigious Washington DC Convention Center attracted enthusiasts and experts from around the world to talk about the best that the tourism industry offers. It was one of the largest travel shows in the United States. A one-stop travel market place that generated thousands of leads and bookings for tourism offices and operators from around the world.
|Lion camp lounge- Zambian lodges|
|Cherri Briggs and husband Richard, owners of Explore Inc|
In its first edition of the African Tourism Monitor magazine (September, 2013) produced in partnership with the New York University Africa House and the Africa Travel Association (ATA), the African Development Bank says the tourism industry in Africa constitutes an important pillar in the realization of Africa’s economic potential. “The revenues from tourism in Africa represent more than double the total given in donor aid,” it states.
Professor Mthuli Ncube, Chief Economist and Vice President at the African Development Bank Group is quoted as saying that in order to make African tourism more inclusive and beneficial to all segments of the population, corporate and government practice must change. He further states that while high growth has been achieved and sustained even in the aftermath of the global financial crisis, Africa’s challenge now is to embark on inclusive and “green growth”. He refers to tourism as an important contribution given Africa’s natural beauty and rich cultural heritage.
“Tourism, as an employment intensive sector, cuts across a spectrum of skills, as well as creating opportunities for greater regional trade and integration. It has the capacity to contribute significantly to the agenda for social inclusion, as cultural endowments and natural assets can be leveraged to create opportunities for local communities,” he adds. The magazine was distributed at the 7th Africa Travel Association US-Africa 2014 Travel Industry Conference.
|Sausage tree dining night - Zambian lodges|
The stand-alone Conference was graced by keynote speaker Ambassador Bisa Williams, Deputy Assistant Secretary at the Bureau of African Affairs of the US Department of State and Mark Preston, Northeast Sales Manager of Destination Marketing at Trip Advisor, who headlined the travel trade organization’s Tourism Seminar. The event took place on February 21, 2014.
Co-hosted by the African Union Mission to the USA and with Premier Sponsor, the Travel and Adventure Show, the event offered tourism industry leaders and professionals from both Africa and the USA the opportunity to network with fellow professionals interested in Africa and to meet the industry’s top decision-makers. It also offered participants the opportunity to learn about Africa’s 50 plus destinations and their diverse services and products.
During the opening plenary Ambassador Williams, who is responsible for African economic policy issues and West Africa, spoke about US policy in Africa, with a special focus on the role of tourism. The plenary also included remarks from seminar co-host, H.E. Amina S. Ali, Ambassador of the African Union Mission to the USA and Edward Bergman, Executive Director of the Africa Travel Association
|Safari house (Elephant Route) - Zambian lodges|
Mark Preston of Trip Advisor, the world’s largest travel website with more than 125 million reviews and opinions by travelers, delivered the industry keynote, and spoke about best practices and product offerings for both the travel industry and consumer. The use of smartphone and how African specialists can leverage a Trip Advisor to build business and or find services in a mobile space.
With a focus on the US market, participants were updated on travelers to Africa - what they do, and where they go across the continent by way of a presentation from the Office of Travel & Tourism Industries at the US Department of Commerce. Updates were also given on each region – North, South, East and Central and West. Speakers included representatives from airlines serving Africa, including APG Air Promotion Group USA Inc., Arik Air International USA, Delta Air Lines, Ethiopian Airlines, and South African Airways, and Africa specialists from the Botswana Tourism Office, the Egyptian Tourist Authority, Group IST, Infinite Safari Adventures, Palace Travel., Partner Concepts, LLC, Tanzania Tourist Board, The Bradford Group, and Warren Green and Associates.
Marsha Holdway (left) listens to a visitor at the Zambian booth
during the Washington Adventure show
At booth number 802, where Zambia participated as an exhibitor, brochures and DVD’s of various tourism entities in Zambia like Anabezi Tented Camp, Baines River Camp, Chiawa Camp, Lion Camp, Robin Pope Safaris, Royal Zambezi Lodge, Sanctuary Retreats, Sausage Tree Camp, The Bush Camp Company, Tongabezi and Wilderness Safaris were on display as giveaways. All in all the Victoria Falls, South Luangwa National Park, Kafue National Park, and the Lower Zambezi National Park were greatly promoted. To add to this whole list of positives were activities such as safari walking, white water rafting, bungee jumping and river boating. Traditional ceremonies among them, the Kuomboka, Umutomboko, Likumbi Lya Mize, Nc’wala, Shimunenga and many others.
Winning the hearts of many visitors to the Show which had a total of 1,500 booths from over 120 countries, the Zambian stand attracted a happy 800 visitors considering that only a handful of African countries participated including Ethiopia, Kenya, Morroco, South Africa and Tanzania. For this reason, First Secretary responsible for Tourism at the Zambia Embassy in Washington DC, Marsha Holdway and Katie McDough from Explore Incorporation highlighted the importance of having presence in the Travel Show. Explore Incorporation designs customized trips to Zambia and many other countries in Africa including Botswana, Cameroon, Central African Republic, Congo, Egypt, Ethiopia, Gabon, Kenya, Libya, Madagascar, Mali, Mauritius, Mozambique, Morocco, Namibia, Niger, Uganda, South Africa, Sudan, Sychelles, Reunion Island, Tanzania and Zimbabwe.
Marsha Holdway and Katie McDonough at the
Washington DC Travel Adventure Show
Earlier, Ms Holdway observed that the Show was an eye opener in as far as Zambia was concerned in that it provided an overview of opportunities and strengths on Zambia’s tourism from a global perspective. Weighing in Ms McDough stated that most visitors expressed an interest in an African Safari in Zambia after a slideshow depicting the country’s tourist attractions, a thing they had never considered before.
“What we were highly successful in achieving today is an increased awareness of Zambia as a viable destination of tourism. I am certain that this will result in actual bookings whether through Explore Incorporation or through other operators,” she added.
Having taken time to listen to almost all the tourism experts make presentations during the seminar and later the next day tour most of the exhibitors’ stands from around the world, I was left with a feeling that tourism was receiving serious attention from travel stakeholders across Africa and around the world who are taking an innovative approach to growing and sustaining the industry. Examples that captured my attention were innovation tourism products such as adventure travel, food and rural tourism, family and multi - generational travel as well as Diaspora travel – topics in the near future.