By Frank Meke
Indefatigable tourism amazon and President, National Association of Nigeria Travel Agencies ( nanta), Mrs susan Akporiaye knew deep down that visiting South Africa with nanta members,inclusive the executive leadership, will change the experiences and new businesses Orientation for Nigeria biggest travel business operators. Selfless and passionately tourism driven, Mrs Akporiaye will wake up each day of the past eleven days in South Africa, unresting traversing the vast ridges, valleys and hills of unarguably Africa’s best tourism destination.
No doubt, she warms to this reality and values of tourism deliberately made possible by a country and people, willing and ever strong to share the richness of its diverse culture and liberation history.
To me, Mrs Susan Akporiaye is enigma and you don’t need to agree with me but her efforts to lead the best of her team, her first eleven unfazed by who they were but nudged into what South Africa Tourism has been transformed just after the pandemic, certainly sits well with me.
For eleven days and nights in South Africa, Mrs Akporiaye, will call me aside for a review, a new direction and opportunities provided by the people of madiba nation and one wonders in appreciation, and acceptation that her pet dream tourism project she initiated while in Nigeria during the pandemic, urging African Airlines to forge a collaboration to connect African countries to grow intra African tourism, aligned with the iconic South Africa Tourism response.
Unconsciously, maybe nudged to full valuation of personal expectation of the best for African tourism, one woke up each morning and sang, ” I can see clearly now, an iconic song made by Johnny Nash. I was not his fan but his message in that hit track, reflects the story of south Africa. It came from the inner recesses of my mind, colours the natural and cultural tourism revival of the South Africa Tourism
Ibiwari uloma kemabonta, Nanta vice president, Abuja zone, loves flowers and South Africa gave her so much to think to lust about but that is not what I want to share with you. At Capital zimbali,a surrealistic eco tourism resort dotting the lust India ocean waterfront of northern Durban, the reality and clarity of the South African tourism message, opened by eyes.
Three days at its iconic multi African tourism collaboration, indaba, a tourism canopy, with 55 countries in post covid attendance and 7.5 million rands, pumped into her economy, no doubt, one began to believe the brightness of her tomorrow’s economy built not around her gems resources sector but on her wildlife, marine ecosystems , frenzy night life, culture and tradition.
From the window of Room 2005, facing the long stretch of bluish Indian ocean, down the North Coast of Durban, Johnny Nash spoke to me and his song became my international tourism anthem.
Maybe at this juncture, it would be pertinent to share the lyrics of Johnny Nash evergreen and awardwinning track with you. Afterall, South tourism is about sharing Africa’ the best of us. Johnny Nash song, just like miriam makeba “pata pata”, pop song speaks to us about the richness of music genre’s, even Nash is American but proudly black..South Africa’s music is another story, a tradition, deeply attractive to global tourism and political advocacy to which late miriam makeba, undoubtedly was chief iconic evangelist.
Let’s sing Nash together, goggle it if you must and dance.
” I can see clearly now the rain is gone. I can see all obstacles in my way.
Gone are the dark clouds that had me blind. It’s gonna be bright, bright, bright, sunshine day.
” I can make it now the pain is gone,.All of the bad feelings have disappeared, Here is that rainbow I’ve been praying for, it is gonna be a bright, bright , bright, (bright) sunshining day” Got the drift? Now SING!
From kwa zulu Natal province to joburg, the enigmatic response of the people, the global tourism reawakening agenda, African tourism consciousness and fiercely loyal attention to incubate fellow Africans to love Africa, lifted the dark clouds that held me blind of what is culturally deep about the continent.
Indeed, listening to Lindiwe Sisulu, South Africa’ s Tourism Minister, Marshall out post covid pandemic, an obstacle that which locked down South Africa avant garde tourism offerings and the World of travel in general, made me to admit that “it’s gonna be bright , a sunshiny day” for South Africa Tourism.
Though the flooding of Durban can’t be forgotten easily but it is a ” pain “, though regrettable but not a ” bad feeling” that can stop the tourism rainbow of the SouthAfrica, glowingly seen and appreciated by the continent, which progressively adopted South Africa as the continent’s must visit destination.
In the past four years before covid unsettled the brightness of south Africa Tourism, eighty six percent of visitors into South Africa, were Africans. The world indeed counts for South Africa, but Africa is the root and pillar of the new South Africa Tourism future. Now, one wonders at the denial of some Africans at the truth of tourism tomorrow carefully nutured by South Africa. Nigeria, significantly the west coast of Africa, must deliberately have a buy- in to this brightness of hope. So much to learn about South Africa and about Africa.
This investment to which nanta,, Nigeria has taken a launch out, with the Ghanaian Tour Operators Union, dotting the lines of affirmation, clearly makes us to see the future of tourism collaboration in Africa.
Let us hear Sisulu again” the goal is simple albeit daunting under the circumstances,, the aim is to catapult South Africa ‘s tourism sector to the forefront of the country’s economic recovery effort and position South Africa as safe and secure destination”
And to the African collaboration to connect with each other, improve on tourism infrastructure, remove border restrictions and visa requirements and give the continent’ s population new direction to rural development and opportunities through tourism, South Africa Tourism has enriched access to knowledge and expertise on how we can navigate our tourism tomorrow’s brightness. So you can see why we are seeing clearly now. Rejoice!!.