Annual World Tourism Conference: African tourism on the social media map

By Fran Roberts

Attending the Annual World Tourism Conference in Rwanda, Facebook and Instagram representatives were in Kigali this week (28-31 August) to discuss and explore ways in which social media can be used to effectively drive tourism growth across the Continent.

Showcasing how both platforms can be used as a tool to creatively help change the narrative of Africa as a tourist destination, the team also took part in a live panel discussion exploring the ‘Evolution of Online Travel and Lifestyle Tourism: Leveraging Africa’s Diversity’.

Facebook also helped to deliver training to SMEs during the conference.

‘Boost Your Business’ is a training initiative, developed by Facebook and facilitated by Digify Africa, designed to train and upskill small business owners on how to leverage digital tools to grow their businesses.

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Commenting on Facebook’s involvement in the World Tourism Conference Akua Gyekye, Public Policy Manager for Africa at Facebook said: “Social platforms offer tourism agencies and companies in Rwanda and across the Continent, wonderful opportunities to put their countries firmly on the map.

“We’re excited to share ideas about how Instagram and Facebook can help Africa share its rich culture and beautiful landscapes with the world, and connect with the tourists of today and the future —an effort we’re proud to support.”

The conference focused on discussing practical strategies for boosting tourism as a driver for economic growth and job creation through innovative business models, new technologies and strategic partnerships in Africa and globally.

In less than 15 years Africa’s travel and hospitality industries have quadrupled in size, and the continent remains one of the world’s fastest-growing tourist destinations, second only to Southeast Asia.

Travel into Africa for business and leisure is on the rise, with 39mn inbound trips expected annually in Africa by 2020, according to research conducted by Euromonitor International.

Showcasing how tourism operators and agencies can leverage Instagram, Facebook Live and Facebook 360, the Facebook and Instagram team discussed how new technologies can be used to create a seamless experience for both the tourist and the operator.

From immersive travel experiences to entice potential customers, to using WhatsApp and Facebook Messenger to allow tourism companies to build customer service channels and communicate with customers prior to booking, during their trip and on their return home. 

20mn people are directly and indirectly employed in the tourism industry on the African Continent which represents 7.1% of all jobs in Africa.

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