The African Tourism Board (ATB) will be launching at WTM Africa in Cape Town, on April 11. First announced at WTM London 2018, its vision is to give a new and collaborative voice to African tourism.

Juergen Steinmetz, Chairman of the International Coalition of Tourism Partners (ICTP) and interim Chairman of the ATB, says: “Our concept is about sharing resources for one common goal: to increase tourism, the quality of tourism, and make Africa a place for tourism investments. Look at us as a Pacific Asia Travel Association (PATA) for Africa. Our goal is to become an independent voice from Africa, for Africa.”

The primary aim of the ATB is to market Africa as PATA does for the Asian Pacific region, and future plans include opening tourism offices in New York, Delhi and Tel Aviv, as well as reaching out to China, Europe and other important African source markets.

In partnership with private and public sector members, the ATB does not intend to compete with existing national tourism bodies. “We are not replacing national tourism offices, but feel we are adding to such outreach, giving smaller destinations and stakeholders a directly cost-effective and efficient way to reach out to trade, media and travellers in potential markets for Africa”, says Steinmetz.

This collaborative approach is key for DMCs who are not only aware of the ATB, but welcome it. Michael Waller, CEO of Dragonfly, says: “I know in the earlier days that SA Tourism, for example, would get against sponsoring or getting involved in anything which featured our neighbouring countries and we, as DMCs, often sold Victoria Falls in conjunction with South Africa or Botswana Delta in conjunction with South Africa, or Mozambique beach destinations in conjunction with our private game lodges. Sometimes we found a lot of resistance from the tourism bodies as they felt that their funds needed to be directed purely to their products. That attitude has changed a lot over the last five to six years to the degree that they are now welcomed at Indaba and that sort of thing and I think that’s definitely a good thing. So anything that sort of furthers the collaboration, I think, is a good move.”