2020 New York Times Travel Show – African Exhibitors Review

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The AfroDrifter was at the New York Times Travel Show at Jacob Javits Center looking out for new trends and exciting stuff coming out of Africa. In particular we were out there paying attention to how African countries are branding and differentiating themselves. While most of the European and Caribbean exhibitors seemed to have come in as individuals, most of African stands showed heavy involvement of their respective Tourism Boards and Associations. The South African delegation was the largest. We saw Rwanda, Uganda, Tanzania and Zimbabwe.

Most Spectacular Stand – Morocco

By far the most eye-catching African stand if not the best at the event was Morocco. The branding was there for all to see mainly driven by the Royal Air Maroc Airline. Every detail on the stands was classy with emphasis on royalty. There were gold-colored artifacts everywhere and they sold Morocco as a full package for food, culture and nature.

On the second day the Morocco stand served free food. This was open air and communal. People lined up to taste the food. The dancers were always available to entertain attendees.

Food at the Moroccan stand

Best Design – South Africa Airways

The South Africans went out of their way to find a strategic spot by the entrance and also to decorate their stand with eye-grabbing boards. South African Airways was the dominant brand at the stand although there were other booths around.

Best Marketing Strategy – Rwanda

The Rwanda stands were all black with unmistakably bold “Visit Rwanda” . On one booth there was a huge gorilla face on the background. It was very clear that they were advertising their flagship safari experience – gorilla trekking. Surprisingly most pf their material was not about gorillas, they were actually selling Rwanda as “The Safest Destination In Africa”

One of the booth at the Rwanda stand

There seemed to be an effort to coordinate the branding of all the booths even though they were manned by different companies. There was Akagera Aviation, Charleston Tours, Far Trek Africa Safaris, Mantis Collection

Elise Milenge from Charleston Tours

Rwanda dancers also took to the stage on the first day of public exhibitions. The ladies serenaded the appreciative crowd with some hypnotizing dance moves. The dances were classy and everything about Rwanda was giving out an aura of new life and new things.

Rwandese dancers

Special Mention – Zimbabwe

It was great to see Zimbabwe back on the international events trying to counter the dark narrative. We spent some time at the stand, and nearly everybody who stopped by had either been to Victoria Falls or wanted to go and swim in the Devil’s Pool.

Zimbabwe Tourism Authority Booth

There were only the Tourism Board and African Safari Walks but there was a buzz around the booths with many people telling their stories about Zimbabwe.

Special Mention – Zulu Nyala Lodge

Although they are from South Africa, Zulu Nyala Lodge had a standalone booth which had a lot of traffic. Four people manned the booth at any given time. They looked well-prepared and had their information at hand. Of the African booths, they looked more organized and efficient.

Zulu Nyala booth
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