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African tourist destinations lose allure

By | September 13th 2009

By Macharia Kamau

Tourism destinations across the continent are losing their attraction among long-distance visitors.

Many travelers from European and North American– which are the key tourist source markets —are finding visiting Africa expensive.

To circumvent this, players across the region are advocating for cooperation in marketing the region especially in European and North American markets and sharing of tourists.

If all goes according to plans, the region might in future be marketed internationally as ‘one tourism circuit’.

"With the global economic downturn, more and more people are finding it difficult to travel and when they are able to, they want to get value for their money, thus the need to be innovative in product offering," said Seychelles Tourism Board director of tourism marketing Alain St Ange .

New markets

The Indian Ocean Island is particularly keen on exploiting this marketing method and has entered into a partnership with the Re-Union Islands to jointly carry out marketing activities in Europe.

"We also have an arrangement with South African Tourism to exploit the South American market. The country gets significant traffic from this American region and believe we can get a share of that while we can also direct our tourists to visit South Africa," he said.

The concept, according to St Ange, is informed by the idea that African destinations should not be competing but instead complimenting each other.

"Tourism is key for us in Seychelles and all the countries in the region and each has their attractions which are unique to them. We should therefore exploit these different strengths when projecting the region to the world," he said.

"This will increase our visibility internationally and subsequently the number of visitors we get."

Last week, Seychelles Tourism Board held talks with local tourism operators on possibilities promoting the two countries as one ‘tourism circuit’. "We have talked to Tourism Minister Najib Balala and agree in principle," said St Ange.

He added that this sort of marketing is taking place among private sector players and only needs more vigour that would in one way come through government input.

Large tour operators with operations in more than one country tend to offer travelers packages that cut across different countries, for instance go to Masai Mara and cross over to Tanzania’s Serengeti National Park. St. Ange said Seychelles Tourism Board would start promoting the Kenya-Seychelles ‘twin centre’ idea later this month during the French Tourism Trade Fair.

"We expect to get an additional 1,500 tourists from the joint efforts with Kenya in the short-term and then further growth will come as the idea will snowball by itself," said St. Ange.

The concept might be beneficial to the Kenyan industry, which needs to grow the number of international tourists.

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