“Zambia the Real Africa” evoked negative feelings

Local children live next to a game park but many have never seen a lion, giraffe or impala. (Photograph by Marcus and Kate Westberg)

Zambia’s Permanent Secretary Stephen Mwansa says the tourism strap line ‘Zambia the Real Africa’ was changed because it attracted negative perceptions towards Zambia in the international Market.

Mr. Mwansa told the Africa Forum on ‘Destination Branding’ held at Messe Berlin yesterday that research conducted on the slogan by Cornwell University of the USA, revealed that most respondents did not like the strap line. He explained that Africa was already associated with negativities such as war, disease, poverty and corruption and that ‘the Real Africa’ made it seem like Zambia was the epitome of all these vices
Mr. Mwansa said there was need for Zambia to enter into strategic partnerships with key international media organizations such as CNN and BBC in order to find cost effective ways of promoting Zambia as a tourism destination of choice in view of the country’s limited marketing budget. He said his Ministry was aware that countries like Namibia and South Africa had bigger budgets but that his Ministry will not ‘sit and cry about it’.. but instead find cheaper but innovative ways of achieving similar results.

Mr. Mwansa said Zambia had a lot of positive stories such as the holding of peaceful elections but that the mainstream international Media had not bothered to talk about this, preferring to go to conflict and disease affected areas. He said the real solution to change of perception lied in ensuring that as many people as possible travel to Zambia in order to have a personal experience of the country.
Other panelists on the Africa Forum on Destination Branding included Chief Executive Officer of the Namibia Tourism Board Digu Naobeb, Programme Director (Regional Programme for Africa-UNWTO) Elcia Grandcourt and Tom Buncle, an international destination consultant.
The theme of the discussion ‘Tourism Destination Branding: Therapy against potential confusion’ was considered relevant especially in the wake of the recent Ebola outbreaks where it was difficult for some travelers to distinguish between affected countries from the safe ones as Africa was regarded as one country rather than a big continent with 54 sovereign states.

Meanwhile Zambian operators exhibiting at this year’s ITB Tourism Fair in Berlin have described business so far as ‘excellent’. Voyagers Zambia Manager Molly Care says her team has managed to get new international buyers from countries like Turkey, Bulgaria and the Czech Republic. She also revealed that there has been a growing interest in family safaris among Europeans that focus on educating privileged children from the West to travel to Africa to learn about wildlife and the different cultures. She said a French family had already booked a trip to Zambia tenable later this year.

On the introduction of the UNIVISA and the scraping of the Yellow Fever requirement by South Africa, Ms Care said the news has been received with ‘a sense of joy and relief’ as the Yellow Fever requirement was seen as a major barrier to entry into Zambia. She said the coming of Rwanda Air and Turkish Airlines to Zambia will further boost Zambia’s tourism industry.

The 2015 ITB-Berlin is being attended by the award winning Norman Carr Safaris of South Luangwa National Park, Track and Trail, Wild Dogs Safaris, Kafue Bush Camps and Voyagers Zambia with Zambia Wildlife Authority (ZAWA) and the Hotel and Tourism Training Institute (HTTI) representing the Government side.

The Zambia Tourism Board in conjunction with the Ministry of Tourism and Arts and the Zambian Mission in Berlin, is hosting the Zambian exhibitors at their stand and plays the main co-ordinating role at the annual tourism event.