As the CEO of an African hospitality group, I spend a fairly big chunk of my time travelling across the continent. And I spend a fair amount of time signing off on the visa expenses of my team members who travel within Africa. And sometimes, I throw my hands up in frustration when a team member’s visa is denied for no apparent reason, even though they are travelling for business.
Now imagine this frustration as a potential tourist or visitor. There are myriad campaigns encouraging us to explore our own doorstep first before going overseas. So you want to let your wanderlust take you from South to North Africa or East to West Africa but you’re stopped in your tracks by the red tape and cost implications of pricey visas.
It’s been a week of GOOD news, but our most significant experiences in the last few days have stemmed out of Nigeria.
Having spent a few days on a fact finding mission whilst we tie up our joint venture agreement, the prospects for BON hotels in one of the largest countries in Africa are most exciting. Although many opportunities have already been snapped up by the major hotel management companies in Lagos, our focus will be on properties in the capital, Abuja and Kano.
Returning to Cape Town from a business trip, it became apparent to me whilst observing Chinese travellers and their confusion at signs and seat numbers, inevitably sitting in the wrong place, that we as a country and as hoteliers, as far as our approach is concerned have not managed to maximize our engagement with the Asian inbound market (and other foreign markets).