Prof. Hinson charges African countries to maximise their tourism assets

Tourism is an absolute game-changer for Africa, says the Pro Vice-Chancellor of the Ghana Communication Technology University, Professor Robert Ebo Hinson, in a keynote address themed ‘Bold Moves, Big Impacts: Leveraging Tourism, Investments & Exports to Transform Communities and Industries’ at the 26th Annual Zambia Institute of Marketing Conference and Awards Gala Dinner held from 19-22 April 2023 at the Radisson Blu Mosi-Oa-Tunya, Livingstone Resort, Zambia.

In the presence of Zambia’s Minister of Commerce and Trade Chipoka Mulenga, Prof Hinson submitted that Zambia stands to benefit greatly from strengthening its tourism delivery potential with the appropriate marketing strategies.

His recommendations for Africa in general include:

The conduct of a tourism marketing audit to define a balanced portfolio of tourism products and services African countries could be trading in among themselves and exporting to other economic blocs as well.

The Africa Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) could consider appointing an AfCFTA Chief Tourism Officer and conducting a baseline Brand Africa audit to assist in better positioning the continent to work better within itself and to identify domestic and international tourism development opportunities and better position African countries to better engage themselves and better engage international tourist visitors as well.

AfCFTA could consider developing a new contemporary Brand Africa Programme to facilitate the full success of the free trade area, especially to facilitate tourism development.

MDAs connected with tourism could revisit existing national tourism strategies and establish new ones with a strong focus on economic diplomacy, sustainability, infrastructural development, brand promotion, and customer-centricity.
Governments could also consider creating functional interlinkages among ministries of trade, foreign affairs and tourism promotion agencies; and promote incentives for investors by establishing Free Zone Boards and empowering them to offer investment incentives to international firms looking to invest in a country’s tourism sector.

Governments could also develop better transportation and critical infrastructure and establish nation-branding institutions to provide strong nation brand platforms for all local and international tourism promotion activities. In the case of Zambia, the Zambia Tourism Board currently handles both tourism and nation marketing. It was established through an Act of Parliament number 24 of 2007 with a mandate to promote and market Zambia as a tourist destination within and outside Zambia.

Industry associations, such as the Travel Agents Association of Zambia and the Tourism Council of Zambia, should provide a unified industry voice to articulate to government and others the industry-wide major issues of national significance and work to set service delivery standards for the tourism institutions operating under them.

Industry associations could also be an important vehicle for implementing country tourism strategies by acting as a critical link between government ministries, departments and agencies and firm level tourism operators while acting as capacity-building institutions for tourism firm operators in Zambia and the other African countries, utilising local and international facilitators in the delivery of gold standard tourism skills.