African Tourism Board President: African tourism is one
Looking to bring Africa together in the tourism industry, the African Tourism Board (ATB) is now working closely to encourage joint marketing strategies that would attract tourists within and outside the continent to the rich unbeatable attractions available in each state for Africa’s good.
African Tourism Board President Mr. Alain St.Ange said that Africa cannot continue to let the world ride on its back as the world is writing what they want and often looking at all the mishaps, all the mistakes, and for everything else that is not good about Africa.
The ATB President said in a special interview with the Uganda’s Daily Monitor this week that intra-Africa tourism will make the continent’s 54 states benefit more from tourism through a ready tourism market.
“African states have different challenges; the bad news of one of the 54 states spreads faster than any good news, and any bad news in one country affects the 54 states, for instance Ebola, so Africa must work together to rewrite its own narrative,” the African Tourism Board President said.
“Now, let us find a way of doing intra-Africa tourism; this will make us self-reliant. We are 54 states with millions of people; that is a ready market,” he told the Daily Monitor, published by Nation Media Group.
St.Ange said that tourism marketing in Africa has taken a leap today, in which technology has taken over fully e-marketing and e-booking.
Focusing on Uganda and tourism in East Africa, St.Ange said that regional states which make the East African Community (EAC) should work then market their tourism as a single East Africa bloc.
“When countries work as an East Africa bloc, they all benefit. But if they go separate ways, they are not working for Africa. Here, we have Uganda, Kenya, and Rwanda competing, yet truly they should be working for East Africa’s good,” he said.
He told the Ugandan Daily that when regional states work as an East African bloc, they all benefit.
“The East African Community has made big strides in selling itself. EAC has key assets that go beyond the borders, so this should even make marketing easy,” he said.
“From that, we have seen things like EAC visa and other initiatives in a way that will help East Africa sell to the world as a bloc. EAC can use key personalities who have a following in the region so that marketing is [again] made easy,” he added.
Speaking about Ugandan tourism and the roles of the Uganda Tourism Board (UTB), the African Tourism Board President said that Uganda has unique selling points; it has the political will, something rarely seen in many countries.
“No one is a prophet in their own country. The first thing should be making people appreciate the fauna and flora in the country. As a citizen, you must see that people come from all over the world to see the good fauna and flora,” he said.
“Domestic tourism should be encouraged, because people should spend the Ugandan currency here first. Therefore, understanding the country will help to promote tourism; it is the role of the industry players to change the people’s mind,” he observed.
“[The] Uganda Tourism Board will never be self-sustaining. The board benefits from an income from government. So UTB’s role is to bring the people, and the percentage of the income from tourism should be given back to the board to continue the work; as long as it brings the tourists, it should be self-sustaining,” St.Ange noted.
“We still have the visa issue. Uganda had made some progress on e-visa, also African airlines can work together to offer the best flights and reduce on the waiting time,” he said.
Increasing Uganda’s visibility, he advised the tourism players and policymakers to compile unique selling points including the equator, source of the Nile, Lake Victoria, and the legacy of former President Idi Amin, as well as tourist-pulling magnets of domestic, regional, and international travelers.
About Seychelles tourism, St.Ange said that the islands’ tourism ministry has political support from government, because tourism is life for the people of Seychelles.
“We protected what we have and developed an industry that suits the smallness of Seychelles. I was a director of tourism and minister of tourism,” he added.
“We brought all the citizens on board and made them aware that tourism is our bloodline; that is what Uganda should do and all locals should be involved, not only big investors but small ones also,” said St.Ange.
Giving a positive example, he said that in Seychelles, they said a small hotel of 24 rooms which should be left for local tourists. That encouraged local investors to make some money. “And that is what Uganda should do, make Ugandans part and parcel of the industry,” he said.
“Make Uganda visible to the world. Uganda needs to increase her visibility by telling the world Uganda exists; in Uganda, good news is not news. You need to rewrite your narrative and tell the world how good Uganda is and that there are investment opportunities,” the ATB President advised.
“At the African Tourism Board, we believe that if East Africa is working together, we can improve from the current 6 percent of intra-Africa travels, and this will benefit Africa more. Africa has a big market of over 1.2 billion people which we must exploit to our advantage by increasing intra-trade and intra-travel among us,” he said.
“We need the African Union to show the political will, and it is this that tourism will be able to thrive on the continent. But if they go separate ways, they are not working for Africa. So, the African Tourism Board was formed to bring Africa together,” St.Ange told the Daily Monitor.
The ATB President was in Uganda where he had participated then addressed a gathering at the 5th Annual “Pearl of Africa Tourism Expo (POATE) 2020” this month and which had attracted more than 200 tourism business leaders from over 20 countries in 4 continents.
Mr. Alain St.Ange is the Seychelles former Tourism Minister, rich with African tourism experience.
The African Tourism Board is an association that is internationally acclaimed for acting as a catalyst for the responsible development of travel and tourism to, from, and within the African region. For more information and how to join, visit africantourismboard.com .
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