Wednesday, March 13, 2013

"Started from the Bottom": Top Ideas for Travelling the Bottom of WEF's Travel & Tourism Competitiveness Report

Name this beach scene. I'll offer some hints: It's not in the Caribbean, you can get $5 lobster, and the music nearby will have you on your feet in no time. Give up? It's Tokeh Beach in Sierra Leone, a country in West Africa most known for being mentioned in Kanye Wests' Diamonds song and for any discussion on child rebel soldiers.

I just read the World Economic Forum's 2013 Travel and Tourism Competitiveness report and the findings are telling if not altogether surprising. Guinea, Sierra Leone, Burundi, Chad, Haiti round out the bottom 5 of an 140 country list of places to vacay. The report doesn't tell me something new but it does present both problems and opportunity.

The problems are both real i.e. lack of infrastructure, past political or environmental unrest, undeveloped services sector, as well as perceived i.e. lack of knowledge about amenities, the safari or "aid" complex surrounding Africa and also countries of its diaspora, and a complete series of purposeful media misinformation on the actual pace of development.  Not far off from the bottom 5 are some of Africa's economic powerhouses Nigeria and Ghana, and even South Africa the longstanding "gem" of the continent is fairly low on the list, not even breaking the top 20.

As you read in my last post, Lagos as a place to relax, unwind, and enjoy life should be on the top of anyone's must do travel list - but you wouldn't know it if you asked your colleagues who have labeled it a danger zone. Freetown, while lacking in 5 star resorts, is not lacking in charm and sheer beauty. For anyone who has ever been to "Old School" you know that Freetown is also not lacking in the realm of laughter and entertainment. The list goes on, my good friend just visited Gabon and his pics at sunset were unbelievable.

Tourism is an important indicator of a country's progress on the world stage and as nations grapple with important issues like roads, energy, and food security they should not leave this important industry sans financial support and professional know-how. I encourage entrepreneurs on the continent and in the diaspora to use the knowledge shared in this report as an income generating opportunity. What does tourism market development look like, how can your business develop the fledgling but much needed tourism industry, and how can promotion of these lower placed destinations be done differently?

I've got ideas and plans and am open to collaboration. In the meantime check out these shots from around the web highlighting some things to do in the bottom 10. Ciao for now!

Hit the slopes in Lesotho

Explore the maizes of Maritunia

Deep sea dive in Madagascar

Soar the sand dunes in Chad

Volcanos in Burundi
Architecture walk in Yemen?

Soak up the sun in northern Haiti

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