Generally speaking, tourists are individuals or groups of people who travel from one place to another especially for sight-seeing in search for leisure, entertainment, business and education etc., while appreciating the beauty of nature and diversity of humanity and thus their travels must be memorable, refreshing and uplifting.
Having said that, it is therefore important to understand that this movement of these people who spend their money and other resources in various tourist attractions is not accidental but is a consequence of a conscious travelling decision based on exposure to information about the opportunities and threats to be experienced in the area to be visited.
Based on the above reasoning, we can then see that in order to boost this industry and benefit from it here in Africa, there is a definite need for the relevant authorities and stakeholders to understand, adopt and improve on the art of marketing and communication in order arouse interest and ignite action from both local and foreign tourists.
By Communication in this case, I mean the intentional and purposeful dissemination and exchange of easily understandable information about Africa in a way that prompts the intended action while by marketing I mean engaging in activities that makes our tourist attractions and the related products and services to be appealing to actual and potential tourists.
Tourism is one of the most socio-economic transforming industries across the global economies which considerably contribute towards the growth in Gross Domestic Product (GDP) of any country through employment creation, revenue inflows and even capital injection for tourism related infrastructure when this industry is well planned and managed.
This well planning and management of tourism inevitably entails chiefly among other things effective marketing and communication of Africa’s tourist attractions which is then followed by timeous, convenient and appealing delivery of well-designed and packaged tourism products and services.
As such, in their quest to increase the number of both local and foreign tourists, the relevant authorities should identify individuals and organizations that are in direct contact with potential and actual tourists and then craft mutually beneficial relationships so that these people become conduits and reservoirs of appealing information about Africa.
Such individuals and organizations include and are not limited to artists and athletes, road and air transport operators, non-governmental organizations and Africa’s own very diasporans, among others.
After that, there is need to try by all means to solicit for feedback and to keep in touch with people who have visited these countries before since their testimonies and continued patronage is very critical in building, maintaining and promoting the country’s good will.
A mutually beneficial relationship with the above mentioned people will go a long way in establishing a thriving effective, efficient and profitable tourism sector in Africa.
When coupled with good corporate governance and political stability, marketing and communication plays a pivotal role in the tourism industry as well as in the wellbeing of the African people and thus must be approach from a question and answer perspective.
There is need to ask the following questions and then beautifully craft and package information and products in a way that addresses these questions for the mutual good of stakeholders:
- Do local and foreign tourists imagine possible business opportunities and do they also imagine any possible mutually beneficial inter-social relations from their tourism encounters?
- Do they imagine and believe that there is no enough security and that much of their spending money will be sucked by bribe seeking authorities and that their precious time will be affected by poor infrastructure?
- Do they imagine and believe that there is a possibility of no safe drinking water and other related amenities thus potentially subjecting them to diseases?
- Do people imagine and believe that there is no enough electricity and alternative power for their various engagements which are dependent on the availability of such sources of power?
- Do people imagine that they will go short of money because of an unreliable currency and ever changing prices of goods and services that can render them momentarily destitute?
- Do people imagine that there is a likelihood of shortages of food and other necessary accessories?
Such questions are very necessary because if people are constantly subject to negative information about the reality to be experienced in a given place, there is likely to be a very limited inflow of tourists to that area and as such, the benefits associated with tourism will not be realised.
It is therefore the duty of the relevant authorities to ensure that both local and foreign tourists are properly furnished with the correct information that stirs and inspires them to want to experience the reality of the beautiful and magnificent Africa on their own.
One acid test that can be used to check on the effect and impact of marketing and communication on tourism is to analyse tourism statistics of a given period and then make random surveys on the people locally and abroad in order find out how much information do they have about Africa and its attributes.
It is also important to find out from the people close to areas that are potentially and actually of tourism significance here in Africa how often do they go sight-seeing to these places and then analyse and evaluate their answers and the related impact thereof.
Brian Kazungu is an Author, Media Practitioner, Entrepreneur and an Opinion Leader.
[email protected], @BKazungu-Twitter`
SOURCE :The Nigerian Voice (opinions)