Countries across Africa have experienced unfortunate tragedies and major setbacks since late 2014, creating continuous media frenzy and a flood of sensational reports to gain viewers/readers. Topics such as Ebola, acts of terror and pirates are not only displayed in excess but these stories also unfairly lump the entire continent of Africa together, portraying the problems of few as the issues of all.
However, if news can be turned into sensational stories and garner weeks of national or international coverage, why would any station or publication settle for reporting just real, everyday news? Proponents believe sensational news is unavoidable and promotes the proliferation of good stories throughout a society. But at what cost? Does the real story just get swept aside for the "better" story?
By owning a television, Americans are putting themselves at risk for hearing and perpetuating erroneous and often over-dramatic reports about people or countries that have already been labeled by the media as pariahs. The problem is that most Americans rarely hear about the positive efforts governments and NGOs make to repair physical, emotional and financial damages incurred during tough times. Former U.S. Ambassador to Kenya Scott Gration wrote a recent article for Time Magazine describing the positive steps already being taken after the April 2 shooting at Garissa University College in Kenya, claiming the lives of more than 140 people.
"Terrorism can happen anywhere - New York, London, Paris, Madrid, Tunis, Mumbai, Nairobi," wrote Gration. "Terrorist acts and the media attention they receive often obscure the real story and stimulate overreactions. Kenya is more than the news story about terrorism and the images portrayed in overly cautious travel warnings."
This tragic incident in Kenya will impact future travel to the country for a while; although, Great Safaris has many travelers currently in Kenya and also booked to travel within the next few months. Those experienced travelers probably looked at a map to see where the murders took place and realized how far away they would actually be; however, this is not the point.
Unfortunately, exaggerated announcements have damaged and continue to bruise many industries, including the Africa travel industry. Yet how do we, as tour operators, survive and prosper in a world full of violence, wars, terrorism, disease and unbelievable wonder.
The answer lies in targeting experienced travel counselors who, like Gration, can help people recognize that one's opinions should not be formed solely on information spouted across the airwaves or plastered on Internet news sites.
The job of a travel counselor is to gather the facts and present those facts to their clients - including the fact that Africa, generally is more secure than 80 percent of American cities, and seven of the 10 fastest-growing economies are in Africa.
We invite professional travel counselors to work with Great Safaris and all those helping to advance the Africa travel industry. We are all in the business of creating memorable journeys for adventurous travelers, whether they have always wanted to travel to Africa or realize how amazing it will be based on the advice of family, friends and their trusted travel counselors.
Travel is the only thing you buy that makes you richer.
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