Since embarking on his career in the travel and tourism industry over 12 years ago, Kojo Bentum-Williams has established himself as a highly skilled communications professional. He has previously worked as a PR official at the Ghana Tourism Authority and more recently served as Press Secretary to Ghana’s Former Minister of Tourism, Arts, and Culture.
Kojo is currently the Senior Expert for Communications in Africa for the United Nations World Tourism Organization (UNWTO) and aide to the Secretary-General. His company VoyagesAfriq Media Limited is one of Africa’s leading voices for tourism news and information.
It’s safe to say that Kojo truly lives and breathes pan-African tourism, so we took the opportunity to pick his brain about what’s hot in Africa right now.
What are some of the niche tourism offerings that African countries can lean into and exploit?
Gastronomy tourism has become a significant focus for destinations around the world. The UNWTO’s Tour of African Gastronomy Publication has helped to raise awareness of the importance of culinary tourism, and destinations are now working hard to promote it as a part of their offering.
Is the focus on sustainable tourism strong enough?
The conversation about sustainability has been getting a lot of attention lately. It’s not just a buzzword anymore, but people are taking action and learning about ways to be more sustainable.
What are some trends you see in African tourism right now?
Gastronomy tourism is a popular choice for many travellers. We also see a growing trend of travel technology/innovation, and domestic tourism becoming more mainstream and integral to destination planning.
What have we learnt since Omicron hit the African tourism industry?
We’ve accepted the virus will be part of our lives for a while, and governments have eased travel restrictions accordingly. The availability of vaccines is driving the recovery, and Africa seems to be doing exceptionally well. By Q1, they may surpass their pre-covid figures.
What should we be focussing on?
The travel and tourism industry needs to do more than focus on numbers, as outlined by the Secretary-General of UNWTO, Zurab Pololikashvili. Instead, the industry should create plans focusing on quality and putting people first.
Are African countries underutilising their tourism potential?
Africa is a continent with immense potential for tourism growth. However, at present, most destinations are far from reaching 50% of their potential. The covid-19 pandemic has served as a wake-up call for the challenges that need to be addressed to make tourism flourish in Africa.
What do you youth travellers want?
As Africa becomes the continent of tomorrow, more and more younger travellers are interested in having authentic experiences they can document and share with others through various digital platforms.