UNWTO workshop focuses on dynamic tourism communications for Africa
3-day event held in Victoria Falls, Zimbabwe
The Madrid-based World Tourism Organisation (UNWTO) brought together top tourism and travel practitioners from 20 African countries to explore ways to deliver more effective tourism communications and showcase the sector’s role as a development pillar.
The first Communications, Media and Tourism Training Workshop in Africa (Victoria Falls, Zimbabwe, November 13-15, 2023) recognised the heightened relevance of tourism and the current opportunity to gain greater visibility outside of the sector itself.
Based on this premise, the three-day event focused on the opportunities for placing tourism in the mainstream conversation and the ongoing challenges facing communities, destinations and Africa as a region.
Reflecting UNWTO’s collaborative approach to communications, the workshop prioritised active learning among participants and trainers.
To gain a better understanding of why tourism matters and how this needs to be communicated, the first day began with visits to three case studies in and around Victoria Falls:
• Tourism for Wildlife Conservation: A visit to the Victoria Falls Wildlife Trust provided an opportunity for community-led conservation, offering a better understanding of where tourism supports wildlife protection and where it can do more.
• Tourism for Development: Face-to-face meetings with the leaders and members of Umuzi Village made apparent the challenges small destinations face in gaining access to tourism’s benefits, particularly about outreach, communications and promotion.
• Tourism for Nature: The rainforest inside Victoria Falls Nations Park served as an example of tourism’s ability to support the preservation of ecosystems, though again making clear how the sector’s full potential is not always realised.
The field trips provided the basis for the following two days’ interactive learning sessions and workshops.
The 50 participants, drawn from 20 countries and communications, destination management and tourism governance, addressed three key challenges facing tourism communicators today: pitching to the media, building and curating media relations, and focusing the narrative on tourism for development.
The workshop was informed by presentations from experts from UNWTO and across the media spectrum (Meta, Channels TV, TraveMedia Ireland) and from top content creators.
The interactive presentations again focused on the most relevant issues, including ways to place tourism in the mainstream media, harnessing the power of social media for tourism development, working with the media, and effective communications to showcase tourism’s importance for culture, heritage and communities.
With the focus of the field trips as the foundation, participants were tasked with presenting their solutions to the three main challenges outlined, with the focus again on interactive learning, the different backgrounds and viewpoints informed discussions around how best to pitch tourism to the broader media, work with media in an ever-changing landscape and move beyond tourism as just a leisure activity.
The discussions highlighted the shared goals of diverse destinations while clarifying the gaps in knowledge that still need to be filled, with UNWTO standing ready to deliver further media training.
Alongside exploring the solutions to growing tourism as a media topic, the workshop also focused on crisis communications, again utilising the diverse expertise of participants and the examples of the field trips to identify ways to be more proactive and build readiness.
Featured image: A speaker addresses the UNWTO workshop in Victoria Falls, Zimbabwe. Image: UNWTO
Last Updated on 3 weeks by Arnold Pinto