Travel to Africa by people of colour, especially black travellers from the US, has gained momentum in recent years. There is, however, room for growth for black Africans to enjoy travel within their continent with better marketing.
This was highlighted in Africa Travel Week’s Black to Africa webinar that focused on opportunities to promote African destinations to the international diaspora and black Africans themselves.
CEO of African Tourism Association, Naledi Khabo, pointed out that COVID-19 had provided the opportunity to evaluate the current status of the black travel movement and look at how to tap into it and leverage its full potential.
“The black travel movement is not new, but black travel to Africa has been a slow burn. We have seen many black travel groups and companies travelling to other non-African destinations that are equally as beautiful but don’t have the meaningful connection travel to Africa provides.”
Khabo said Ghana’s 2019 campaign, The Year of Return, had been a real shift in driving more black travellers to the country.
Rondel Holder, CEO of US travel concierge company, Global Royalty, said the campaign had initially focused on enticing African Americans to visit the continent by highlighting positive stories that would resonate with them. Khabo, however, said there was not enough marketing of positive stories like these to attract a more diverse market segment to Africa.
South African owner of Soul Traveller Tours, Siphesihle Penny Ndlela, said her company had always had the goal of ensuring that Africans fell in love with travelling within their continent. “We have curated experiences within South Africa and the SADC region with suppliers in the areas to connect the various cultures so they can share their similarities and differences,” said Ndlela.
Founder of Away to Africa, a DMC dedicated to providing guided, cultural travel experiences throughout selected countries in Africa, Tiffanie Anderson, agreed and said the majority of her clients were African-Americans who were looking for a different travel experience.
“They are looking for a place to connect to and, for many people, travelling to the continent feels like home,” she said. “It’s a spiritual connection that people are after and many travellers get that when they come to Africa.”
Holder said it was important for black travellers to see people who looked like them travelling the world, including Africa. “There isn’t enough content in mainstream media on black people travelling to Africa and it’s important to share, so that African Americans are aware of all the tourism offerings of the continent and are excited to travel to any African country.”
Safety is a concern for African-American travellers, as with most travellers, when considering to travel to Africa and Holder explained that xenophobic attacks were of particular concern. “Bad news travels fast and having one news headline of xenophobic attacks in South Africa does have an effect. From my perspective, Africa is still considered this far-off place that many African-Americans don’t have much knowledge of.”