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African Travel: Connecting the Continent and Redefining African Narratives

By Jamie du Plessis

Compared to 2019, African travel saw a considerable decline in the number of international tourist arrivals in the past three years. During this period, however, businesses changed their focus to developing local and intercontinental travel. 2022 was a year when the industry’s recovery steadily rebounded, and the sector saw promise in investing in the trends and resources that would keep people and experiences at the forefront of the entire customer lifecycle.

For the continent of Africa to come together and have an impact on the world’s narrative, Africans must take the initiative in articulating the African story. In the age of connectivity, travellers want to feel a connection to the places they visit; they no longer want to be treated like tourists who often experience destinations superficially. This indicates that they are on a journey that builds in-depth knowledge, emotional ties, and experiences which are of the utmost importance.

Advertising Week Africa ignited conversations on how Africans may integrate the continent and build the African narrative as we develop meaningful relationships with actual people, not just statistics on our screens through our platforms.

Unlocking the power of Brands through Stories

It’s crucial that, as an African brand, you push your perspective in an impactful way when looking at driving the customer experience and integrating personalisation that promotes engagement. Your passion, the stories of your community, your people, and your culture all contribute to the value of your brand.

The world’s largest organisations are working to solve challenges. Andisa Nstabane, managing executive of brand marketing and communications for Vodafone Group Africa, highlighted this alongside the fact that Africans have a real chance to make a difference on our continent by helping one another, investing in innovation, and resolving societal problems.

Gugu Mthembu, Chief Marketing Officer of Telkom, says, “It’s not a BBBE tickbox; we should not look at it in that way. It’s our responsibility to make sure that the people that create the brand story and the brand positioning are the people that know the audience that we are trying to engage.” 

She continued, “South Africa, in its diversity, has so many languages, so many cultures. If your team standing behind the camera creating the narrative for your brand, in terms of how your brand is positioned, is not a diverse team, you are at risk of having content, or a narrative, around your brand that is not multi-dimensional.”  

Curating Glocal Experiences

Glocal experiences, coined by Mphothe Elizabeth Mokwena, Marketing Director of Unilever SA, should be at the forefront of the narrative Africans shape. She emphasises that engaging with your community needs to resonate with whatever local nuances are there while making it resonate globally. 

The experiences that resonate with people are based on three critical key points:

  • Insights that resonate with the customer
  • Pain points that you touch on
  • How you solve the issues faced

The travel and tourism industry in Africa has the potential to continue influencing dialogues and fostering a genuinely authentic perspective. The narratives that define and build what is conveyed about the many cultures on the continent, your brand, and the potential destinations are how this is accomplished.

Cultivating collaboration is a powerful tool for promoting growth and sharing your messages. By defying the norms, working together, promoting diversity, and speaking to the culture you are proudly a part of, you can own the stories and foster a sense of identity and community.

Monique L. Nelson, Chair of UniWorld Group, Inc. (UWG), says, “There is a tremendous amount of diversity on this continent. We can solve anything, for any client, in a way that is unique, that is authentic, and that ultimately will resonate in ways that I don’t think the world has seen.” 

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