In the first five months of 2023, the US market recovered to 94% of the arrivals in the same period in 2019. Black American travellers make up a large proportion of those travellers.
Jerry Mpufane, President of South African Tourism North America, said South Africa’s rich history, diverse cultures, stunning landscapes, and vibrant communities, held tremendous appeal for travellers seeking a profound and transformative experience.
“Black American travellers, in particular, seek to reconnect with their ancestral roots and explore the continent as a powerful journey of self-discovery,” noted Mpufane.
“A key opportunity to attract Black Americans lies in festivals and events, cultural experiences, and sustainable tourism that emphasises giving back and leaving a positive impact following a trip.”
The US market was South Africa’s second-largest inbound market in 2019, recording 373 694 arrivals. It was also the second-highest overseas market for tourism pre-pandemic spending in South Africa, with R7.8 billion (€375.4m).
This market has grown significantly since then, recording R8.3 billion (€399.6m) – 6% above the 2019 spend – in tourism spending in 2022. This meant the US market was the highest in terms of spend, even though the UK market represented the biggest number of tourists in 2022.
Speaking during a US Market Access Workshop at Africa’s Travel Indaba 2023 – held in Durban in May – Stephanie M Jones, founder, and CEO of Cultural Heritage Economic Alliance, Inc., emphasised the impact of this sector of travellers on social media.
“Black American travellers play an active role in shaping travel trends through social media platforms. They share their experiences, provide recommendations, and inspire others to explore new destinations.”
She pointed out that working with Black travel influencers, for example, could create an opportunity to reach Black American travellers with unique and insightful content.
The right message and the right tone
Jones noted that travel industry professionals needed to demonstrate cultural sensitivity and inclusivity. Creating welcoming environments and providing diverse representations in marketing materials would help attract and cater for Black American travellers.
She explained: “South Africa offers various adventure activities, such as bungee jumping, shark-cage diving, hiking, and surfing. Black American travellers can participate in these thrilling experiences while enjoying the country's natural wonders. Socialising with locals, immersing in cultural history, and experiencing the nightlife and culinary experiences are all important elements of the ultimate Black American trip to South Africa.”
Jones said Black travellers had a special connection with the destination, reiterating that there was ample opportunity for businesses to implement marketing strategies to target these travellers.
This piece was authored by Mbongeni K. Dhliwayo, Regional Insights Specialist: Americas, South African Tourism. Edited by: Adele Mackenzie.