By Ntsako Travel Africa
South Africa is regarded as the gay capital of Africa, this year marks 31 years since the first-ever pride march in Mzansi. On October 15,1990, South Africa’s first Lesbian and Gay Pride march was held in Joburg.
It was the first Pride march on the continent and acted as both a gay pride event and an anti-apartheid march. Ever since, South Africa made a pledge to continue to welcome all diverse travellers while positioning the country as a travel destination of choice for the LGBT+ Community.
It is for this reason that South Africa National Convention Bureau (SANCB) together with the Northern Cape Tourism Authority partnered with the Ntsako Travel Africa to host the fourth Pride of Mzansi LGBT+ Masterclass and Campaigns, which precedes the LGBT+ Travel Symposium which is set to take place in Krugersdorp in March 2022.
The Masterclass took place in November to coincide with the anniversary of the month in which the same-sex bill was passed into Law. It took place in a hybrid format and the number of delegates allowed into the venue were limited to ensure strict adherence to COVID-19 protocols.
The programme was jam-packed and very educational, moderated by Exit Newspaper Editor and Dialogues for Change Director, Dumisani Dube who kept the delegates on their feet challenging them with different issues affecting queer travels. Delegates engaged on interesting topics such as;
- Understanding Sexual Orientation, Gender Identity & Expression (SOGIE): Addressing Implicit and Unconscious Bias.
- Tourism being an equality marker in the persecution of LGBT People Globally (Related to rise in LGBT Migrants)
- Economic impact of Pride events and case study on South Africa
The Masterclass’ aims were to :
- Augment LGBT+ in-destination efforts in the LGBT+ Tourism space
- Educate in-destination trade, media and enable sectors on the advent of the LGBT+ travel niche locally, how to create a compelling value proposition, manage and retain the LGBT+ travel niche in the destination.
- Showcase host city through in-person experience and ensuring locals benefit from the pink rand
- Creating strategic alliances for the destination players and relevant international LGBT+ trade specialists.
- To discuss ways and means on how trade and media need to embrace diversity and inclusion in order to be LGBT+ market ready
- Creating the media marketing content collateral through the curation 9f campaigns in the destination
- Quantify the value of LGBT+ travel into the destination based on the global value of annual travel of the segment set at US$215 billion.
The host city, Upington is located on the banks of the Orange River and is sometimes referred to as the Northern Cape’s “river city and has an International Airport with daily flights between Johannesburg and Cape Town. It is a contrasting sight of lush emerald green vineyards against the semi-desert reds of the Kalahari Desert. As the closest major centre to the Kgalagadi Transfrontier Park, the town is seen as the gateway to the Kalahari Desert, a region that is home to a number of Khoi, San and Nama people.
Already established as a same-sex couple friendly destination, South Africa was the first country in the world to safeguard sexual orientation as a human right in its Constitution. It was also the fifth country in the world and the first in Africa to legalise same-sex marriage. Many of the country’s cities have plenty of clubs, pubs, venues and establishments that cater for the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer community.
Majestically reaching over 360 000 sq kilometers from the world-renowned Kalahari Desert to the arid plains of the Karoo, the Northern Cape offers visitors unique and authentic experiences. With its open spaces, friendly people, rich history and unique cultural diversity, the Northern Cape promises an extraordinary holiday experience that is well curated for the average LGBT+ Travellers. One of the tourist routes in the region, is named after the indigenous quiver tree, the Quiver Tree Route stretches along the mighty Orange River. It features quaint towns of Upington, Kakamas, Keimoes, Augrabies, Marchand, Kanoneiland, Kenhardt and Riemvasmaak. The route will appeal greatly to families, adventure and adrenaline seekers with activities such as river rafting, fly-fishing, kayaking, river cruises, 4×4, hiking, MTB trails and excellent bird watching. With the longest wine producing area in the Southern Hemisphere there are many opportunities for world class wine and brandy tasting along the route.
Another route available is the Kalahari Red Dune Route. Its has immense Golden dunes, wide-open skies and flat-topped acacia trees epitomise the Kalahari Red Dune Route. Stretching from Upington right to the Namibian border, visitors traverse the villages of Ashkam, Groot and Klein Mier and Rietfontein. Adventure-loving families and adrenaline seekers can enjoy dune hikes at dawn, eagle-owl encounters, close encounters with meerkats, sand-duning and surfing in the red sand.
Chief Convention Bureau Officer of the SANCB – Ms Amanda Kotze-Nhlapo said “While there are exclusively lesbian and gay clubs and bars in South Africa’s cities, there are also many establishments that, along with members of the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer communities, welcome anyone who wants to party the night away – these nightlife venues and establishments form part of the country’s extensive and welcoming LGBT+ travel network”
The Managing Director of Ntsako Travel Africa, Lipian Bongani Mtandabari said, we are proud to steer this campaign to change attitudes and address the topic of Diversity and Inclusion in the Rainbow Nation as we reflect on the evolution of our society and our World, a world that Madiba envisioned and worked so hard to achieve.”
“Celebrating our identity and reserving the right to live our truth is the essence behind this campaign and we look forward to a time when the tourism and hospitality sector is LGBT+ diverse, inclusive and LGBT+ ready” Mtandabari concludes.