Afrotourism, a global trend

Afrotourism, a global trend

*By Solange Cristina — Afrotourism Specialist, Historian, CEO of Rota da Liberdade — Cultural and Tourist Program for Mapping the African Diaspora at RM Vale do Paraíba — SP

The interfaces of Afrotourism and its development in Brazil and abroad.

In 2018, the term Afrotourism started to be used by several Brazilian entrepreneurs to qualify their activities, in this case the commercialization of “Afrocentric itineraries”, meaning the offer of itineraries in which tourist experiences revolved around the Brazilian Afrodiasporic Culture and also the offer experiences in countries of the African continent.

Afrotourism is intersectional and can be carried out in urban and rural environments and with different perspectives on the History of Africa and Afro-Brazilian Culture, and may have a pedagogical, artistic, cultural, scientific, rural, community, gastronomic character. Proof of this are the various companies focused on the segment spread throughout Brazil.

We mark 2018 because it represents the  emergence of Afrotourism, but this type of tourism was not born this year. In 2006, the Rota da Liberdade Cultural and Tourism Program was launched in the city of Sorocaba, which consists of 8 itineraries in 18 cities in the Metropolitan Region of Vale do Paraíba.

The launch was the result of a partnership between the São Paulo State Secretariat of Tourism and businesswoman Solange Barbosa, and from this moment on Rota da Liberdade became part of the list of thematic itineraries of that secretariat. In the same year, the government of Bahia launched its Ethnic Tourism program with an Afro cut. Also in this context, a group of historians from Minas Gerais began to carry out educational itineraries focusing on Black Culture as a focus on cities such as Ouro Preto, Tiradentes and Mariana.

Ethnic Tourism in this case was understood as a process of Segmentation of Tourism, a program created by the Ministry of Tourism, where this modality was recognized as Cultural Tourism.

From “Ethnic Tourism with Afro cut”, we started, from 2018, to use the term “Afrotourism”, encompassing not only Afrocentred Experiences, but also highlighting the presence of black professionals in charge of Travel Agencies, the emergence of mostly black Quilombola and Peripheral Communities building itineraries, as well as transport professionals and Black Guides working in the area.

But Afrotourism is not a movement restricted to Brazil, in 2020 MMGY Travel Intelligence¹ released the first results of the first phase of The Black Traveler report : Insights, Opportunities & Priorities, where in an analysis of about 4,800 black leisure travelers from the U.S. and 200 members of the National Coalition of Dating Professionals revealed that black travelers from the U.S. accounted for $109.4 billion in spending with trips in 2019, it was identified in this study the interest of these travelers in destinations with diversity and the receptive to Black Travelers, with experiences of connection with the African origins of these travelers.

The year 2019 was elected by Ghana as the “year of return” to mark the 400th anniversary of the departure of slave ships from the West African coast, precisely where the country is located, which took their ancestors to the Americas. The African country was flooded by American travelers who received their citizenship and participated in ancestral reconnection ceremonies, receiving African names and learning about the culture of their ancestors, all after conducting DNA tests in their native country. With its focus on Brazilian Black Travelers², in 2020, South African Airways traveled with black Brazilian influencers to the African country to promote Afrotourism.

In 2020, Sebrae MT publishes research on trends for Brazilian Tourism, including Afrotourism trends. Afrotourism was also guided by Tourist Communication vehicles such as Portal Panrotas, Blog Viajar Verde. It also entered into discussions at major tourism events such as WTM Latin America and ABAV, where one of the great characteristics of Afrotourism was pointed out, namely the search for Diversity and also an anti-racist education through tourist travel.

This term was coined by USP Tourism student Thainá Santos, in her TCC called: The AfroBrazilian Traveler — blackening the tourism defended in 2020.

[1] Global Network of Companies within MMGY Global.

[2] This term was coined by USP Tourism student Thainá Santos, in her TCC called: The AfroBrazilian Traveler — blackening the tourism defended in 2020.

The opinions expressed in this text are the author’s opinion and do not necessarily reflect the position of WTM Latin America.

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Solange Cristina — Afrotourism Specialist, Historian, CEO of Rota da Liberdade — Cultural and Tourist Program for Mapping the African Diaspora at RM Vale do Paraíba — SP

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