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Dubai Beckons as xenophobia demarkets South Africa

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Regional Director (Africa) for Dubai Tourism, Stella Obinwa; Rwanda’s High Commissioner to Nigeria, Stanislas Kamanzi; Permanent Secretary, Lagos State Ministry of Tourism, Arts and Culture, Jamiu Ashimi; Organiser, Akwaaba African Travel Market, Ikechi Uko and the Director-General, National Council of Arts and Culture, Olusegun Runsewe at previous edition of Akwaaba Africa Travel Market in Lagos


Though London remains the most preferred destination for most Nigerians since 2013, statistics also shows that South Africa and Dubai are also catching up in terms of the number of Nigerian visitors they receive every year. This is based on internal data bookings and visitor numbers available,

While South Africa had enjoyed favourable patronage from Nigerians as a result of it’s wide range of tourism offerings, South Africa Tourism (SAT), the agency responsible for promotion of the ‘Rainbow Nation,’ has in recent times experienced stiff competition from Dubai Tourism, which has deployed aggressive marketing campaigns in the battle for Nigerian market.

From using Nigerian celebrities to promote their destinations, to giving tour operators special holiday treats, the fight for Nigerian has also seen both tourism agencies stage roadshows in different cities of Nigeria, with the hope of driving tourism traffic to their destination.

Just last week, South African Tourism ended its West African roadshow at the Federal Palace Hotel and Casino, Lagos. The roadshow, which was also held in Accra and Kumasi in Ghana, saw marketers of the Rainbow Nation exhibit and made presentations in Abuja and Port Harcourt before the finale in Lagos.

It was an opportunity for South African businesses, especially in the hospitality industry, to introduce and in some cases, reintroduce themselves to the Nigerian market.

The roadshow highlighted South Africa’s affordable experiences and diversity of offerings to key travel partners in the West African region spanning across travel, accommodation, entertainment and events, with a focus on opportunity for partnership development between and among South African Product Owners (SAPO), Trade partners and other stakeholders. The event also featured trade workshops and engagements, SA Specialist graduation ceremony and the launch of the South Africa Trade Awards.

Among the exhibitors were the Tsogo Sun group, Sun International, the Hilton, South African Airways, other airlines from East Africa and numerous tour operators.

Tourism remains a key driver of South Africa’s national economy and contributes a major contributor to the employment of its citizens. The sector contributes about 9% to the country’s gross domestic product (GDP). South Africa welcomed 2.7 million tourists in 2017 and this is mainly due to its aggressive tourism drive spearheaded by South African Tourism.

SAT markets South Africa internationally and domestically as a preferred tourism and business events destination, ensures that tourist facilities and services are of the highest standard, and monitors and evaluates the performance of the tourism sector.Over the years, outbound travel and spending has grown in the West African region with a 12.7% increase in trips between 2013 and 2018 for the Ghanaian market and a 1.9% increase in trips for the Nigerian market with total outbound expenditure growing by 14.6% in the same period.

However, the ongoing diplomatic row between Nigeria and South Africa, as a result of xenophobic attack on foreign nationals, has become a major threat to the growing influence of South Africa as preferred destination for Nigerians. While some intending tourists are worried about their safety in South Africa, others, who had nursed the ambition of visiting Dubai, see this as an opportunity to explore.

The situation has thereby paved way for Dubai Tourism to take advantage of the uncertainty surrounding Nigeria-South Africa diplomatic relationship to intensify efforts and harness the market. How South Africa Tourism, which already has a physical office in Lagos, intends to salvage the situation will depend entirely on when and how the diplomatic row is resolved.

Meanwhile, Dubai will be attending the 15th edition of the Akwaaba African Travel Market, billed to open on September 22 and runs through 24, at the Eko Hotels and Suites Victoria Island, Lagos.With more partners and delegates, Dubai will be launching a dedicated breakfast to meet the entire travel trade tagged A glimpse of Dubai. About 22 companies and a high-powered delegation from the DTCM will engage Africa on destination Dubai, while lots of prices and gifts to participants via raffles.

The Dubai delegation includes Issam Kazim CEO, Dubai Corporation for Tourism and Commerce Marketing (DCTCM); Stella Obinwa Director Africa, International Operations; Shae Brotherton -Senior Manager Integrated Experience Management; Tareq Binbrek Senior Associate, International Operations; Salim Ali Mohamed Dahman Senior Manager Campaigns, Campaign Management and Janelle Lewis Senior Manager, International Communications, PR and Communications.

Among Dubai companies that will exhibit at the Akwaaba 2019 are Mida Travels, Pacific Destination Tourism L.L.C, Palazzo Versace Hotel L.L.C, Red Apple Middle East Tourism LLC, Royal Arabian Destination Management DMCC, The Ritz Carlton Dubai and Travel Destination Online DMCC. Others include W Hotel Palm Jumeirah, Wings Tours Gulf (L.L.C), Copthorne Hotel, Emaar Hospitality Group LLC, Avani Deira Dubai Hotel, American Hospital, VPS Group, Dubai Health Authority, Expo2020, Golden Sands (3) Hotel Apartments, Golden Treasure Tourism L.L.C, JA Resorts & Hotels L.L.C, Rayna Tourism L.L.C, Jumeirah Group and Orient Tours LLC.

This comes as Gambia Tourism Board seeks to renew their presence in Nigeria, as the DG Abdoulie Hydara has confirmed that Nigeria is a very important market for Gambian tourism and the reason for “our attendance at the Akwaaba trade fair every year.”

“Nigerians are known as high spenders and with the close proximity to the Gambia we have an opportunity to penetrate fully in this market. Many meetings are lined up during our presence in Nigeria to showcase what the Gambia has to offer to Nigerians. Due to the importance we put in Nigeria, the Gambia tourism board will appoint a Destination Manager to represent the Gambia towards the promotion and marketing of destination Gambia in Nigeria. The Gambia has lots of investment opportunities to offer to potential investors in Nigeria and the need to sell this among others In Nigeria,” the director of marketing of the Gambia Tourism Board, Adama Njie said.

Meanwhile, it is expected that South Africa Tourism, which has over the years had the best stand at Akwaaba, will be attending this year’s edition. However, whether is will participate in it’s usual grand style is left to be seen.


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