Destinations are constantly seeking transformation through a mix of new products and new marketing strategies. What is the best measure of a successful destination transformation program? Outcomes of destination transformation programs has everything to do with key performance indicators. Some destinations measure success of transformation by number of awards, service labels and followers.
So, what will work to transition destinations in Africa to better tourism? We posed this question in an online survey, and responses show that new consumption patterns are the best measure of destination transformation success. Promotion for sustainable consumption in tourism is taking hold of these new patterns, where consumer purchase decisions are influenced by sustainability labels, sustainable products, and responsible tourism practices. Sustainable consumption is a broad concept, that cuts across consumer behavior to viewpoints of trade partners and destination hosts. Through it, tourism businesses can influence and sustainably grow existing markets, trigger new entrants in the market, and lead to desired change with their trade partners.
Africa’s tourism has to look out for alternatives in what it offers for consumption, specifically to meet thresholds for sustainable consumption. For instance, reduce plastic pollution in its coastal destinations, that comes from single use plastics as a product of choice; address the issue of food waste from hospitality & MICE, and offer solutions to support efforts for achieving food security for growing population in Africa; take action on climate concerns & other environmental priorities affecting communities. Carbon footprint from long haul visitors to the continent is something we cannot afford to ignore, even with other pressing needs from the COVID-19 induced crisis in tourism. Tourism cities in the continent still risk water scarcity for their residents occasioned by over consumption from guests in luxury facilities. Such pressures from tourism consumption are stressful to natural resources that the continent boasts of. It is tourism supply at the destination that allows consumption patterns of what we see today, through what is offered by businesses, and what is nurtured for destination development through government policies for tourism.
To encourage novel practices for sustainable consumption in Africa, businesses should pay attention to the triple bottom line framework to recall costs linked to consumption of what our tourism has to offer. This consumption has to think of demand of natural resources for tourism activity, impacts on populations across Africa, and benefits to improve quality of life and wellbeing. Most important, governments must redirect their efforts from overpromotion of tourism, to rethinking the perfect guest profile for Africa. This is the guest who will be interested in the new consumption patterns, expected to match prospects needed to transform destinations in the continent.