In developing nations all around the world, tourism is essential for building economies and creating job opportunities. Growing interest in cultural, heritage, and development tourism both locally and internationally is being sparked by Africa’s fascinating history and spectacular natural resources. Africa’s economies have depended on tourism for the past two decades.
In 2019, $169 billion was added to the continent’s economy, and tourism contributed about 7% of the continent’s GDP. It’s noteworthy that a large portion of international tourism to Africa comes from other countries. In recent years, several African nations, including Ghana, Sierra Leone, Zanzibar, Zambia, Nigeria, and Mauritius, have seen significant growth in their tourism sectors.
This article discusses the historical ties between the USA and these African nations as well as the initiatives taken to promote tourism and cultivate friendly ties.
US-Africa Tourism in Ghana
“The Year of Return, Ghana 2019” was a great initiative by the Ghana Tourism Authority (GTA) in partnership with other organisations to strengthen tourism ties as it honoured the tenacity of all survivors of the Transatlantic Slave Trade who are dispersed throughout the globe.
This initiative encouraged African families to head back to Ghana on the 400th anniversary of the first enslaved Africans’ arrival in Jamestown, Virginia, positioning Ghana as a popular vacation spot for African Americans and other members of the African Diaspora, which was the campaign’s primary goal. This initiative made the experience of individuals who returned safe and welcoming and inspired many to re-engage, make investments, and contribute to the process of re-building what was lost 400 years ago.
Also, Ghana’s government launched the “Beyond the Return” campaign in 2020, aiming for a ten-year project with the theme “A Decade of African Renaissance—2020-2030.” In addition, Ghana and the United States have decided to work together to promote travel, the arts, and culture in both nations through partnerships.
Also, the renovation of various tourist sites is another initiative to attract tourists and help them understand Ghana’s arts and culture. There have been renovations at tourist sites like the Kwame Nkumah Museum recently.
The Bunce Island Preservation Project is a step towards boosting tourism. Bunce Island is still regarded as a significant historical site today, and initiatives have been taken to recognise and preserve its ghastly past. Bunce Island is one of Sierra Leone’s most important heritage sites and a unique cultural monument to Africa’s interaction with the United States and the larger Atlantic World, as it served as an international trade centre and the pass-over point for commercial ships transporting enslaved people to the West Indies and North America.
In light of the restored site’s role in tracing ancestors, this preservation project offers hope for African-Americans looking to get in touch with their long-lost relatives in Sierra Leone, preserve this significant piece of history, and advance intercultural understanding.
Present-day Sierra Leone is working to strengthen ties with the United States and has embraced its cultural diversity. There have been cultural exchange programmes, allowing visitors from the United States to experience the diverse history, music, and arts of the nation.
The United States began engaging with Zanzibar in the nineteenth century. Diplomatic contacts and trade interactions between the two countries may be traced back to that time. These included the establishment of consulates, trade agreements for commodities such as ivory, cloves, and other spices, and maritime cooperation to ensure safe navigation in the region. These meetings helped to improve ties and promote commercial interests between the two countries.
Zanzibar’s unique civilization helps boost tourism. Stone Town, a Swahili coastal trading town in East Africa, is without a doubt Zanzibar’s liveliest and most popular tourist destination. Its urban fabric and townscape are nearly intact, and it features many outstanding buildings that reflect its unique civilization, which has brought together and homogenised various parts of African, Arab, Indian, and European cultures over centuries.
Tourism on the East African island of Zanzibar is increasing and has made a considerable contribution to the region’s economy, accounting for 27% of GDP. The number of tourists has been increasing year after year, and efforts to boost the industry have been implemented. The increase in tourists is due to the growth of direct flight alternatives to Zanzibar. The island now has 30 airports globally that provide direct service.
Also, investments in hotels to boost tourism and more tourist sites A five-star tour of the Zanzibar Golden Tulip Airport Hotel, as well as the building of other mega hotel projects such as the Loasis Beach Resort Hotel, RIU at Nungwitourism town, and Emerald Zanzibar Resort and SPA, reflect a robust tourism investment programme. The introduction of additional tourist attractions by the government around Unguja and Pemba Islands
In addition, the Zanzibar Commission for Tourism (ZCT) markets tourism overseas and ensures that tourism regulations are followed by all tourism firms, which increases government revenue and encourages tourists to stay longer to discover historical monuments and wildlife.
The 2023 Marketing Plan for Destination Zambia has been unveiled by the Zambia Tourism (ZTA) Agency with the goal of boosting tourism by putting advanced strategies into practice. Promoting the nation as a safe and prosperous tourist destination is the main objective of the plan.
The organization is hopeful about expansion, which is encouraged by increased government financing for marketing, visa waivers for particular markets, and growing consumer confidence in tourism products.
The primary purpose of the strategy is to bring together major players in the sector and urge each Zambian to represent their nation as a brand ambassador. Tourism in Zambia is available in a wide variety of forms, including adventure, safari, culture, heritage, and business tourism.
The marketing strategy fits with a number of strategic plans, including the ZTA strategic plan for 2022–2026, the Tourism Master Plan 2018–2038, the Tourism Strategy Policy of the Ministry of Tourism, and the Tourism Master Plan 2018–2038. It will showcase the distinctive selling traits of Zambia, such as its hospitable people, spectacular safaris, and the legendary Victoria Falls.
The United States has consistently contributed significantly to Nigeria’s foreign direct investment. Following Nigeria’s independence from Great Britain in 1960, bilateral contacts between the two countries were established. Their cooperation has been essential in the twenty-first century, despite periodic challenges brought on by their entangled diplomatic past.
Nigeria stands out among other African nations because of its close relations with the United States, which are primarily fuelled by the sizeable Nigerian American community and shared cultural heritage.
To improve cultural ties, the US and Nigeria signed a bilateral agreement on cultural property in January 2020. The agreement aims to protect cultural landmarks and artefacts from trafficking while also raising awareness of Nigeria’s rich cultural heritage.
Certain Nigerian antiques may be subject to import restrictions, and the U.S. may make it easier for trafficked cultural items to be returned. This collaborative effort shows a dedication to preserving cultural heritage and stopping illegal trafficking.
The US and Mauritius have had historical ties since the 18th century, when the US began trading relations with the island nation. Both countries maintained diplomatic contacts, engaged in trade, and encouraged economic and cultural exchanges throughout this time and beyond.
The Mauritian government intends to use its digital assets to boost tourism, which suffered a major fall during the COVID-19 pandemic. To do this, they are shifting their attention from traditional online tourist promotion to establishing a rich digital environment to attract location-independent workers. One of the primary steps to realising this objective is the launch of the Premium Travel Visa, an online renewable residence permit.
Mauritius also has acceptable Internet speeds, coverage, and cybersecurity, making it an appealing destination for digital nomads. Through this plan, Mauritius hopes to not only revitalise tourism’s contribution to GDP but also attract high-quality visitors.
Benefits of Boosting US-Africa Tourism
Increasing tourism from the United States to Africa through initiatives such as “Beyond the Return” can have major benefits for both continents. Tourism has the potential to generate economic growth by generating cash, creating job opportunities, and promoting cultural interchange between American tourists and African natives.
Additionally, greater tourism can contribute to infrastructural development, conservation activities, and an improvement in Africa’s global image. Furthermore, it promotes educational opportunities, enhances diplomatic contacts, supports entrepreneurship, and facilitates people-to-people relationships, ultimately building mutual understanding and cooperation between the United States and Africa. Prioritising sustainable practises is essential for ensuring long-term beneficial outcomes.
The historical ties between the USA and various African countries have laid the foundation for strengthening tourism and cultural exchange. As African countries continue to develop their tourism sectors, collaborations with the USA offer an opportunity for growth and mutual benefit.
By recognising the shared historical narratives and unique attractions of these African nations, US-Africa tourism can witness exponential growth, fostering lasting connections between people from different corners of the world.