African tourism recently managed to make a good impression on two different occasions in Beijing. The events were part of enhancing co-operation between China and the external world.
In the first event 15 countries forming the Southern African Development Community (SADC) promoted their goods through art, craft and other portable items, but also via documents and DVDs.
On behalf of African ambassadors in China, Botswana’s Ambassador to China – Hon. Sasara Chasala George – called for investing partners in the tourism industry in order to create jobs and promote African economy in general.
But it was Mr. Bradley Brouwer, the SADC’s tourism coordinator, who gave valuable insights and expectations for both tourists and prospective investors intending to go to Africa. He revealed that so far the tourism sector has employed over 1.3 million people throughout the SADC member countries, but also indicated that this is not enough.
A good number of attendees were prospective tourists, investors, tour operators and owners of Chinese restaurants. Others included small scale investors who have already been operating as tourism consultants and promoters.
“In 2010 alone, African countries have contributed US $940 billion to the world economy, which means your support is of vital importance”, commented Brouwer. He further showered praise to Tanzania that has had considerable years of peace.
“It is thanks to its peace that tourists flock in to visit the Kilimanjaro, the Spice Islands of Zanzibar or the world-famous Serengeti, which hosts the largest terrestrial mammal migration in the world. It is one of the Seven Natural Wonders of Africa and one of the ten natural travel wonders of the world.”
“The Serengeti is also renowned for its large lion population and is one of the best places to observe prides in their natural environment”, he added. He elaborated on the unique cyclical movement of animals from Tanzania, crossing the border to neighbor country Kenya.
But he also cherished the Victoria Falls that unites Zambia and Zimbabwe, and called for investors to supply choppers in order to make things much easier for tourists interested in watching these falls.
Other attractions worth mentioning were the special wines emanating from the Kalahari Desert, that include the countries of Botswana, Namibia and South Africa. He also reminded us about the ruins of the once powerful Mwenemutapa Empire.
This Empire was of significant importance, as it showed first evidence of how Africans could organize themselves, and develop over time.
The discussion also illustrated the peculiar gardens of Malawi and Mauritius, where florist business has become a major source of income.
Mauritius especially can be proud of its exquisite honey, various soaps, but also its Kuanfu tea claiming to be the best digestive and health beverage, whilst also improving sleep.
South Africa was represented by various items, but the hall seemed most captivated by the amazing marula tree and its uses. The marula is also known as the ‘elephant tree’, due to the gigantic animal’s appetite preference for its leaves (and world-renowned fruit).
All attendees enjoyed the treat of a free-of-charge bottle of Amarula drink (originally launched in 1989). Apart from this drink, the fruits of this tree are also used to prepare marula juice or traditional herbs. Not to mention the marula perfumes and skin oil. According to current figures, South Africa exports Amarula alcohol to more than 100 countries worldwide.
When it comes to Madagascar the emphasis was put on the treasure of its fish stocks and water cruising, whereas in the Seychelles it was its riches in tourist beach hotels along the Indian Ocean that were brought to attention. But also for its beautiful rocks used as ornaments or jewellery, as well as its high quality massage oils.
Moreover, Madagascar was also praised for its good coordination in sea-related business whether it be fish or other products. This is not forgetting swimming and yacht competitions, or exhibitions of unique tortoises and exotic birds.
Botswana was showcased for its rich wildlife like elephants, antelopes, and hippo-filled rivers that dot the landscape. Emphasis was also put on the country’s treasure of tree logs that can be used for construction purposes, carvings and ornamentation both in home and offices.
But this discussion did not end without a unanimous condemnation of poaching, with a significant decrease in elephant numbers.
In a separate event organised by envoys in China from all over the world, African goods attracted yet again a lot of attention. While Madagascar exposed baskets and other domestic items, Sudan showed off its various food specialties.
Benin, on the other hand, focused specifically on clothing. Yet its pavilion also had Congolese music that attracted considerable attention.
Talking about music, one highlight of the event featured unique dresses by Fijians of African descent and traditional dances by the African Diaspora of Micronesia.
The Federated States of Micronesia (FSM) is a sovereign island nation spread across the western Pacific Ocean comprising more than 600 islands. Micronesia is made up of 4 island states: Pohnpei, Kosrae, Chuuk and Yap. This country has a considerable number of people from the African Diaspora.
While the population consists of a mix of people who trace their descent from Sri Lanka, India, Arab countries, and Africa, one could learn through their dances that there was a massive transfer of African culture during their migration.
Historical sources indicate that treks of people from Africa to Asia started in the 12th and 15th centuries, though the migration trend accelerated in 1851. For further reference, feel free to consult the following document.