June 13, 2024
English TKP News

Marketing South Africa to the Black American Leisure Travel Market

The North American market is South Africa’s fastest growing in the world, with the greatest potential for future growth in visitors. But within that market is a segment that is even more potent—the Black American leisure travel market.

Recent years have seen an awakening of Black Americans to the possibilities of travel to Africa. There has always been a deep affinity between Black Americans and the ancestral homeland, but in the past Africa was seen as so far away as to be practically unreachable. In recent years, however, Black travelers have been discovering that travel to Africa is not nearly as difficult as in the past.

Africa has a way of engendering a sense that you have come home, no matter how your ethnic origins are traced back to humanity’s mother continent. Word is getting out among Black Americans about South Africa, its accessibility, and the broad spectrum of its offerings, from exciting, culturally rich modern cities to the wilderness homelands of the world’s most magnificent wildlife. The story is too good to be bottled up, and Black travelers are waking to the possibilities, pleasures and spiritual expansion that can come from a trip to South Africa.

Stephanie M. Jones, founder and CEO of the Cultural Heritage Economic Alliance, Inc. (CHEA), is one of the leading spokespeople about travel to Africa, and she focuses on the Black American market. Jones says the market is generally underserved by the travel industry, because the industry doesn’t know how to talk to Black Americans or what they seek when they travel. She has set out to correct that problem.

Because the market has been underserved, Jones says, it represents a tremendous opportunity for anyone who discovers its potential and devises an effective strategy for penetrating it. Drawing on research by MMGY, Jones reports that Black American leisure travelers spent $109.4 billion on travel in 2019. That amounts to 13.1 percent of the U.S. leisure travel market. And its growth potential is even more impressive because there is an awakening about travel to Africa moving through the American cultural landscape.

Studies show increasing numbers of Black travelers who are making their lifelong dream of travel to Africa come true. According to Jones, they are motivated by a desire to discover their African heritage and reclaim their ancestral roots. Beyond that, they also enjoy the same pleasures as other travelers, such as the discovery of foods and wines, museums, shopping malls, adventure activities and cultural immersion.

Black travelers are also interested in supporting Black-owned businesses. They feel a deep affinity to Black South Africans. They see that they have many shared cultural values and have experienced many of the same kinds of struggles—slavery and segregation on one side, apartheid, and discrimination on the other.

Some recent political trends in America have accentuated the feelings of many Black Americans that they need to visit or even move to Africa. Black Americans want to travel to countries and spend their consumer dollars in places where they feel safe and welcome. South Africa fills that bill like nowhere else.

The South African Tourism (SAT) North American hub is working to get the word out to Black American travelers about how South Africa is the perfect destination for them.

How SAT is Reaching Out to Black American: South African Tourism is pursuing a broad-based campaign to reach Black travelers. SAT partners with Jones’s Cultural Heritage Economic Alliance (CHEA) through a multi-tiered program that includes cultural exchange, the development of new businesses, and the sponsoring of travel to South Africa by member tour operators.

SAT also partners with the Association of Black Travel Professionals (ABTP), to take action on several fronts, maintaining an active membership in the organization, collaborating on training programs and sponsoring fam trips. In addition, SAT partners with Blacks in Travel & Tourism, hosting members for travel to South Africa to help them learn how to sell it to their clients.

Another enterprise supported by SAT is Birthright Africa, a non-profit organization that provides free travel to Africa for youth and young adults. Although SAT has always courted the Black American market segment, there is now a change in how that market is responding.

The SAT team has also worked with strategic media partners like Essence, BET and Blavity/ Travel Noire to create digital brand campaigns, including custom branded articles, social posts, dedicated email blasts, and ROS digital and mobile banners, driving reach across Black travel audiences in both the USA and CAN markets, prompting consumers to learn more about South Africa’s travel offerings.

In addition, SAT uses hosted media trips to expand its reach into additional print and online publications by showing journalists and influencers the best of what South Africa can offer Black travelers.

“What is new is a renewed interest from the Black American segment in the African continent, and of course South Africa,” says Jerry Mpufane, head of the North American hub of SAT. “Our research tells us that African Americans are saying, ‘I want to connect with my roots,’ and there’s a very specific and emotional appeal about the African continent.”

According to Mpufane, when Black Americans arrive in South Africa, they find that “their ability to connect with people, their ability to find themselves in the people at destination is a massive emotional pull.” This phenomenon points to something beyond just building a business.

“Tourism is the sector that connects people,” says Mpufane. “It’s not just frivolous, as in ‘Let’s go on holiday,’ but at a humanity level. And there is certainly that deep-seated need for connectivity.”

What Black travelers Are Seeking: The overarching purpose of travel to South Africa for Black Americans is the journey of self-discovery, which has many layers of possibility in South Africa. Cultural immersion is high on the list of the experiences they seek. That will happen in many ways on a trip to South Africa, no matter what the itinerary or activities are.

Just shopping, mingling, traveling around, and exploring the cities and the villages, or seeking adventures, will produce cultural immersion and interaction along the way. Other possibilities include attending festivals; participating in cultural activities; guided tours to townships; visits to museums, landmarks, and historical sites; and engagement with local communities.

Some Black American travelers come to South Africa to do volunteer work and community service, seeking opportunities to give back. A safari, the experience of the great wildlife in the wilderness, is something every visitor to South Africa should experience. And that too involves cultural immersion, interaction and supporting people in the destination.

With the tremendous diversity of landscapes across South Africa, sightseeing provides an infinite palette of possibilities. There is also a broad range of adventure activities available, from shark cage diving to bungee jumping, hiking, cycling, and surfing. The tremendous fertility of the African soil leads to a wealth of culinary pleasures and discoveries.

How to Reach Black travelers: Jones emphasizes the importance of meeting Black travelers on their own turf. Social media is a key for penetrating the market. Black influencers are reaching many people with their experiences and preferences while traveling in South Africa.

In marketing to Black travelers, it’s important to reach out in a way that will be seen as authentic and sincere. It’s important to maintain the right tone. Black Americans will be sensitive to being stereotyped or manipulated.

The Black American market segment for travel to South Africa is booming and offers an unprecedented opportunity for travel professionals. And it’s only going to get better as current trends continue to develop. Now is the time to visit South Africa. For more information, visit www.southafrica.net.

Source : Insider Travel

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