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SSOUTH AFRICA, Durban – Friday, 3 May, 2019: More people are travelling the globe than ever before. The United Nations World Tourism Organisation estimated that 1.4-billion people flew overseas, which is a 6% increase from the previous years.
But black travellers make up just few of those numbers, which, for Thainá Santos, is a problem to be rectified for. The 22-year-old Brazilian researcher and tourism graduate of the University of São Paulo was at Africa’s Travel Indaba Business Talks to present her findings on tourism trends and Afro-Brazilian travellers.
Afro-Brazilians make up 54% of the South American country, yet very few of them have the means to travel. In her research, Afro-Brazilians said lack of funds and accessibility prevented them from travelling.
What Santos also found was that Afro-Brazlians were under-represented in tourism related media. “We are invisible. We are rarely seen enjoying places and having fun.”
In travel magazines, just 4% of the content is targeted at Afro-Brazilians. In one magazine, the first image of a black traveller appeared on the 27th page.
Yet, even with financial means, some travellers said racism deters them from international travel, more so than language and currency exchange. Her research found that 46.7% lived or saw racism in their travel experiences. Some respondents stated that they were seen as cleaners and even potential criminals.
So while representation is a factor, Santos was more concerned with how black travellers experienced a country. “It’s not about us being represented. It’s about how we feel and how we feel as a person. Black people want to feel at home.”
Santos, however, does not want Afro-Brazilians to travel for the sake of it. She encourages them to visit Africa and connect with their history. Of the black travellers surveyed, only 5.3% visited Africa. The top four countries visited were South Africa, Mozambique, Morocco and Egypt. “Not many black Brazilians know their history. They need to reconnect historically [to Africa].”
However, when it comes to Mandela, Brazilians see him as a symbol of power. “When we show South Africa to Brazilians we show Mandela’s legacy,” she said.
Her next stop is Johannesburg, where she will visit historically significant sites such as Mandela House, the Hector Pieterson Museum and Liliesleaf Farm. “I already know it’s going to be an emotional experience,” she said.
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Altaaf Kazi at South African Tourism
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