African countries in push to collect international tourism dollars

CONRAD ONYANGO, BIRD STORY AGENCY

AFRICAN countries are pumping energy and resources into campaigns to woo international tourists, as arrival numbers close in on pre-COVID levels.

Kenya’s Tourism Board (KTB) has expanded ‘The Real Deal’ a digital marketing campaign targeting global tourists with videos and banners showcasing the country’s diverse wildlife, culture and adventure activities.

The campaign started in September with North America, the country’s source arrival market has been scaled to cover European countries- UK, France and Germany.

“This is not only a very timely and relevant initiative but also an important part of our strategy for attracting visitation from abroad, as we regain our stability from the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic,” said KTB Chief Executive Officer, Betty Radier.

The United States was Kenya’s major source of tourists in 2021 with 136,981 arrivals according to Kenya’s Tourism Research Institute.

In the first week of October, East Africa’s largest economy held its annual Magical Kenya Tourism Expo (MKTE) 2022 which attracted visitors from 30 countries.

In mid-October, the country will host the Africa and Indian Ocean Gala Ceremony of the World Travel Awards and the flurry of activities is expected to see international arrivals recover to 75 percent of pre-Covid levels by year-end.

South Africa is running a “Neverending Tourists” campaign that leverages the experiences of three Americans who visited Cape Town and never left, to showcase culture, nature, food and other life experiences on offer.

While this campaign started earlier in the year, arrivals have remained stubbornly lower than in 2019, according to Stats SA’s Tourism and Migration data.

Starting in October 2022, Zambia’s Tourism Authority (ZTA) announced that the country had removed VISA requirements for EU nationals and a number of other countries in a move targeting international arrival numbers.

“Zambia is Calling, tourist Visa requirements waived for selected countries,” the agency said in a tweet listing the countries.

Tourists from the United Kingdom, the United States, Canada, Norway, Australia, China, South Korea, Gulf States and the European Union will be able to visit the country without visas.

Zanzibar is also eyeing increased international arrivals with plans to host an international tourism summit next year.

The Zanzibar Tourism Investment Association (ZATI) and organisers of tourism exhibitions from Arusha, KILIFAIR, are organising the event to showcase tourism investment opportunities in Zanzibar to operators and travel agents.

Dubbed the ‘Z – SUMMIT 2023’ has been slated for February 23-24, is seen strengthening the growth of the tourism industry in the country.

Africa also recorded strong growth in January-July 2022 compared to 2021, according to the latest UNWTO World Tourism Barometer, which shows Africa’s International arrivals grew by 172 percent in the first seven months of the year compared to 2021.

This strong growth has pushed arrivals to 60 percent of 2019 levels, the same level as global figures.

The Barometer said the increase was due to “strong pent-up demand for international travel as well as the easing or lifting of travel restrictions to date”.

The UNWTO report showed that 86 countries had no COVID-19-related restrictions by mid-September 2022.

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