Branding & domestic tourism – UNWTO blueprints for Africa’s tourism recovery & growth
The United Nations World Tourism Organisation, (UNWTO), the UN specialist agency with responsibility for the tourism sector has identified and rolled out branding and marketing as recovery strategy roadmap to support Africa to quickly recover from the devastating corona virus (COVID- 19) pandemic.
According to information from Mr. Zurab Pololikashvill, the Secretary-General of the UNWTO, “countries around the world are steadily shifting from responding to the corona virus pandemic to the recovery phase, where tourism would play a key role not solely due to its importance in job creation, supporting livelihoods and driving inclusive development but tourism itself has been hit hard by the unprecedented crisis, with a decrease of 47 per cent (47%) in international tourist numbers, which translated into around (US$ 320,Billion) in lost revenue.”
The UNWTO Boss, however, affirms that Africa has certain advantages as a prime destination for wildlife and or nature tourism, unspoiled landscapes and habitats, over other global tourism regions, for most international tourists, which call for promoting “Brand Africa, as a key priority.
The branding and marketing support, according to UNWTO, is as a result of feedback from consultations with Africa Member countries.
The objective is to identify the best marketing ideas and strategies that will reposition and make prospective tourists, to see a different Africa, more positively, especially regarding Agenda 2030 and how to reposition tourism sector , to contribute effectively in realising the lofty Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).
The practical assistant in marketing is being offered alongside others including helping to train and up-skill tourism workers, so that they can adapt to the new reality.
The UNWTO is, therefore, working closely with Africa Member countries to adopt innovative strategies and entrepreneurship, to overcome unprecedented challenges that require new ideas and voices.
Moreso, UNWTO seeks to work with member countries to realise their domestic and regional potential.
The Madrid based specialist agency urged member countries to evolve strong and responsible domestic tourism industry, to sustain livelihoods and rural communities, especially women and youth, for the gradual return of international tourism.
The UNWTO in addition, calls for determined leadership among African countries, reiterating its confident in the ability of the tourism sector to bounce back stronger and its ability to adapt to challenges, learn lessons as well as embrace innovation and new ideas, which will be pivotal, “to restart tourism across Africa and so reestablish tourism as the ultimate driver of growth and opportunity for all,” as proven over the years, according to UNWTO.
…What’s Ghana’s Tourism Brand ID?
Product development and product packaging are essential elements in product branding, promotion and marketing to meet consumer need and satisfaction, to ultimately attain organisational set market targets and goals.
Branding becomes more indispensable, important, critical and essential in a very sensitive, delicate, dynamic and very competitive industry as tourism.
Ghana has great tourism potential as regards the four main natural, man-made, cultural and heritage tourism resource categories.
This potential, however, does not translate into an attractive brand national tourism image, it takes a lot of conscious innovation to create attractive and popular brands, which are packaged and promoted with the best marketing mix and marketing strategies, to become popular brands that gain and attain high consumer patronage and acceptance.
The “Wear Ghana, See Ghana, Eat Ghana”, existing and ongoing national tourism brand campaign is too opaque, it is not attractive, concise and precise enough to make an appreciable impact , to attend the desired target results, the campaign needs review, amendment and realigning with specified identified professional and precise segmentations, which is an outstanding brand, re-enforced with the right, attractive and appropriate logos, colours, taglines among other scientific elements in formal branding enterprises.
Lack of branding
Tourism currently ranked as the largest biggest and fastest growing industry in vogue in the world, contributing critical and substantial foreign exchange into the socio-economic purse of many countries globally, over the years until the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic in late 2019.
Our Homeland Ghana has a thousand and one tourism resources in all four broader resource categories of natural, cultural, heritage and man-made resources, which are evenly spread across the length and breadth of the country but pathetically earns paltry pittance from the global tourism market share, whilst other countries with less tourism resources rake billions of thousands of dollars from the blue gold of the 21st Century.
Ghana has all the ingredients including political stability, safety and security and a standard of fair road network and transport system, to be an endless model destination and tourism traffic hub but tarries behind and misses out on the global tourism index.
Our Homeland Ghana is well endowed with some unique and outstanding rare tourism resources but has no attractive and compelling tourism brand image and identity.
The country has failed woefully to brand itself touristically and, therefore, has no attractive tourism brand image and identity, on the tourism market index currently.
Modern tourism is very competitive which has compelled all destinations to adopt dynamic, innovative, creative and robust strategies to create attractive brand images , to reposition themselves to attract the ever increasing dynamic sophisticative money bag tourist patrons and consumers, for a chunk of the rare blue tourism revenue.
There is, therefore, the need for the country to take pragmatic initiatives to commission and undertake in-depth researches to identify its industry competitive edge/ strength and take steps to create an outstanding national tourism image identify, properly segmented for both domestic and foreign tourism patronage and consumption.
The need arises to comprehensively brand the Homeland touristically with creative and innovative strategies, using very sound communication, marketing, branding and business promotional strategies and principles.
The national tourism branding exercise should create multiple competitive product sub-brands within a synchronised outstanding national brand to attract and satisfy the needs of visitor consumers of diverse tastes, needs and cultural backgrounds, with domestic and foreign consumer needs and targets.
The exercise must be very comprehensive with very clear and conspicuous and identified market segment targets including the broader domestic, specific consumers including the working class, students, faith, academia, research, conservation, youth, retirees markets and or consumers.
There also need to target other identifiable markets such as West Africa, Africa, African Diaspora, and the world at large among others, to create instantiations, irresistible and attractive brands within the National Image Tourism Brand.
Notable and possible attractive tags include Ghana-Land of Living in Diversity, Warm Hospitality, Sun, Beach, Rich Culture & More, Ghana-Land of Gold, Ghana-Footprints of Slavery and Colonisation, Ghana-Land of Endless Tourism Treasure, Warm Hospitality & More outstanding national tourism enclaves, circuits, clusters, zones, districts and regions along other remarkable sub-product units such as gold, slave routes, cocoa .oil, beach, waterfalls, wildlife, agriculture, education, health among others.
Branding and marketing promotion are interrelated with common denominators with satisfactory customer and consumer experience to achieve desired market share in modern and an industry as competitive as modern tourism.
Promotion strategy is another critical and essential element in brand’s success narration in every endeavour.
Sustained multi-media campaign messages in the form of press statements, press conferences, press soirees, interviews, using electronic (radio/television), banners, sign boards, print (newspapers, flyers, magazines), attendance of exhibitions, fairs/events ( home and abroad), and social media presence medium have , fair general media balanced media-mix presence all overbearing positive effects on brand evolution campaigns.
By Prince Dennis Klintings
The Writer is Brands, Branding, Communication, Marketing & Tourism Analyst