‘As I have said, the first thing is to be honest with yourself. You can never have an impact on society if you have not changed yourself…Great peacemakers are all people of integrity, of honesty, but humility.’ Nelson Mandela
The energy and enthusiasm about Africa was running high at the first US-Africa Tourism Seminar on 2/27 developed by The Corporate Council on Africa and Africa Travel Association. While Africa has its fair share of political, economic and humanitarian challenges, the continent is poised to be a major travel destination and location for investment and business exploration.
In conjunction with the ‘Greening’ of the travel industry, Experiential Tourism, a growing sector beyond ‘sun-and-sand tourism,’ is expected to grow to 25% of the world’s travel market within six years - $473.6 billion a year.
As Gregg Truman, vice president of marketing for South African Airways pointed out, Africa commands only 2.4% of global travel market share, with only 64 million people taking trips to Africa.
With a new breed of ‘sustainable tourists’ seeking culturally authentic travel experiences that protect the environment and integrity of the destination, VolunTourism and travel philanthropy opportunities are on the rise. Africa is rich for its natural resources, tourism and wildlife, dancing and music – among others.
Opportunities for ‘Doing Good in Africa’:
Corporations and individuals have abundant opportunities to make a difference by addressing causes in need and making a personal connection with African communities. Some suggestions include:
- Engage in ongoing education for the public about the realities and opportunities
- Encourage family and stakeholder visits to see communities with causes in need
- Align with NGO/non-profits to help mitigate extreme poverty, disease, threats to wildlife and tourism, and infant mortality
- Provide benefits and incentives for local businesses, workforce, products and services
- Donate funds and/or volunteer in communities
A special thanks to my fellow panelists’ on Experiential Tourism, their engaging presentations and fascinating work. Sean Barlow - Afropop Worldwide, El Hadji Aziz Gueye – Senegal Tourist Office, Lelei LeLaulu - Counterpart International, Dr. Lawrence Martin - Stony Brook University, Sharr Prohaska - New York University, Kevin J. Wright - World Religious Travel Association.