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African Diaspora Tourism Key for Africa

by Apolinari Tairo - eTN Tanzania: Tourist companies, individuals, and organizations with passion on the continent’s tourist attractions and heritages are all set to celebrate for the first time, Africa Tourism Day on November 26, to spearhead the promotion and marketing of the continent’s rich tourist potentials and African Diaspora Tourism.

Africa Tourism Day (ATD) has been planned and organized by Desigo Tourism Development and Facility Management Company Limited in partnership with the African Tourism Board (ATB) bearing the theme “Pandemic to Prosperity for Posterity.” The African Tourism Board is diligently working to promote and market Africa as a one-tourism destination of choice in the world.

About eleven years ago, the first African Diaspora conference was held in Tanzania’s capital of Dar es Salaam, setting a path for Africans in Diaspora to come back to Africa to visit their mother continent and their relatives. Organized by the African Diaspora Heritage Trail (ADHT), the conference was covered by eTN for global dispatch to spread a message of “homecoming.”

The ADHT set a legacy for Africans in Diaspora, mostly in the United States, South America, and the Caribbean to visit then meet their distant and closer relatives in Africa.

Former Tanzania President, Mr. Jakaya Kikwete, opened then addressed delegates of the ADHT conference in which over 200 participants, mostly Africans in Diaspora who had flew all the way to meet each other in East Africa.

The conference was held under the theme of: “An African Homecoming: Exploring the Origins of the African Diaspora and Transforming Cultural Heritage Assets into Tourism Destinations.” ADHT members in Bermuda and the United States have been creating linkages of people of African descent from all corners of the world to travel to Africa to visit their mother continent where their great grandparents left several hundred years ago. Africa has been endowed with vast heritage tourism products to tell those African descendants of their history. ADHT has been aiming to bring together people of African origin from all over the world to identify places and phenomenon in Africa in order to conserve, document, and preserve the global presence and cultural influence of people of African descent.

These initiatives, motives, and targets by ADHT members will contribute knowledge on Africa to the world stage of its history, culture, and contemporary affairs.

Exploring and traveling through the Ivory and Slave Routes in East, Central, and West Africa will provide a first-ever journey to sites, towns, and terrain retracing the origin of their grandparents. The Trans-Atlantic Slave Trade in West Africa which had taken Africans to “The New World” is now a tourism heritage that would see Africans in America and their kin in Europe taking the same route to visit their mother continent.

Dr. Gaynelle Henderson-Bailey of Henderson Travel Services and the ADHT once said that “Target Marketing” is essential to selling Africa. “Our target marketing really has led us to the niche market of heritage tourism or African Heritage Tourism.

“We’ve been packaging tours to Africa since 1957 when Ghana won its independence,” said Dr. Henderson-Bailey. Ghana is now standing as a target African nation for Diaspora Heritage Tourism. “My mother and father actually had to charter a plane and took a group over to celebrate Ghana’s independence, and they realized it was so exciting,” she said. After their trip to Ghana, the Henderson family then established niche tourist trips to explore the historical and cultural heritage in Africa. “The African Diaspora refers to the people of African descent dispersed from the African continent in modern migrations including, but not exclusively, those moved forcibly through the trans-Atlantic slave trade,” Gaynelle said. The African Diaspora Tourism focuses on the shared historical and cultural heritages of countries of the African Diaspora and heritage tourism that educates visitors and safeguards the core values and creativity and progress of African descent through culture and history. It appeals not only to people of African descent, but also to the general international market. Today’s tourists are more educated, more savvy and sophisticated, and are more interested in cultural heritage programs, museums, trails, and sites. Therefore, African Diaspora Tourism can increase international arrivals and international travel spending, directly supporting jobs and wages in the tourism industry within African countries or destinations. The current trends in African Diaspora Tourism indicate significant progress in people’s ability to write themselves into their nation’s history and heritage.

The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) has been supporting African Diaspora through the Slave Route Project which had contributed to the African Diaspora’s progress and recognition. UNESCO’s Strategy for the Slave Route Project offered some pertinent parallelisms for African Diaspora Tourism, among them, promoting the contributions of Africa and its Diaspora, promoting living cultures and artistic and spiritual expressions, resulting from the interactions generated by the slave trade and slavery. Other strategies under the UNESCO Slave Route Project are the preserving the archives and oral traditions related to the slave trade and slavery, taking inventory and preserving tangible cultural heritage, places and sites of memory linked to the slave trade or slavery and promoting memory tourism based on this heritage.

The Project also targets the deepening scientific research on the slave trade and slavery, developing curricula and educational material with a view towards encouraging teaching of slave trade at all levels of education. Heritage Tourism targets to explore then market Africa as the Glorious Continent with 55 diverse and colorful countries with 1,000 ethnic languages with 800 cultures.

Africa is famous for incomparable sights from Victoria Falls in Zambia and Zimbabwe, to the great pyramids of Egypt, Table Mountain in Cape Town in South Africa, the Olduvai Gorge and Ngorongoro Crater in Tanzania, the beautiful white sand and sun-kissed beaches of Mauritius and the Seychelles on the Indian Ocean, all these sights make Africa a continent worth visiting.

Africa is fast becoming a destination that is finally attracting more attention and more travelers. As an exciting tourist destination, the continent of Africa offers a myriad of special interests to target niche markets. Marketing and Branding of Africa is now focusing on wildlife safaris, adventure and sports tourism like bungee jumping, white water rafting, mountain climbing, hiking, and skiing. Ecotourism and Heritage Tourism are relatively a new niche tourist product that explore the history and culture of people and places, providing a key opportunity for marketing and branding the African continent. Heritage Tourism is currently under marketing strategy to expose Africa’s rich cultural and historical heritage sites. The National Trust for Historic Preservation defines Cultural Heritage Tourism as the type of Traveling that brings tourists to experience the places and activities that authentically represent the stories and people of the past and present.

It includes historic, cultural and natural resources. The Heritage and Cultural Traveler is generally better educated, more affluent and has higher expectations for travel experiences that are both enjoyable and educational.

The African Diaspora Heritage Trail (ADHT) that was formed by the Bermuda Ministry of Tourism is now standing as a catalyst to link historic and cultural destinations throughout the countries of the African Diaspora into a network of vibrant tourist attractions that focus attention on their shared historical and cultural heritages.

A vehicle to educate visitors, enhance economic viability of African Diaspora countries and safeguard the core values and creativity of African descent, culture and history. ADHT seeks to establish heritage trails linking Diaspora traditions in Africa, South and Central America, Bermuda, The Caribbean, Europe, the United States and Canada. It also aiming at creating or building transnational relationships between countries, communities, institutions and people of the African Diaspora.

African Diaspora heritage destinations may gather to explore trends, experience cultural expression, participate in professional development sessions, examine model heritage trail programs and enjoy networking with their colleagues in Africa. ADHT also facilitates long term relationships within the Diaspora for educational, cultural, and economic development and tourism purposes partnership Creation and Private Sector Participation in Heritage Destination Development.

An African Homecoming is a theme aimed at exploring the Diaspora and Transforming Cultural Heritage Assets into Tourism Destinations to attract those people of the African descent to travel back to their mother continent to trace their origin. The African Tourism Board (ATB) has been launched two years ago, aiming to promote Africa as one tourist destination and tourism destination of choice in the world, partnering with key source markets around the world.

The primary agenda of ATB is to position Africa as a leading tourism destination through strategically integrated tourism development and marketing through effective branding, marketing and infrastructure development in collaboration with the public and private sectors.



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