AfricaNewsAnalysis’ exclusive interview with Mr Guido Bürger, President of ASA

Mr Guido Bürger, President of ASA – Arbeitsgemeinschaft Südliches und Östliches Afrika/Photo: ASA

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Stuttgart, 20 January, 2024

The trade fair “CMT“ in Stuttgart is one of the world’s largest consumer shows for tourism and leisure. More than 2000 exhibitors from around the world participated in the event.

Visitors can find – among others – information on cruises, expeditions, vanlife and holiday destinations.

Moreover the trade fair offers a visitor programme with expert talks and panel dicussions from the tourism industry.

AfricaNewsAnalysis’ (ANA)  travel editor, Niels Bartels, attended the event and spoke with Guido Bürger who is the president of ASA („Arbeitsgemeinschaft Südliches und Östliches Afrika“) – Working Group Southern and Eastern Africa.

Niels Bartels, ANA Travel Editor pictured at the CMT Tourism fair in Stuttgart/Photo: ANA

Excerpts of the interview follows:

Niels: What does the “ASA“ do ?

Guido: The ASA (Arbeitsgemeinschaft Südliches und Östliches Afrika) is the German tourism association to promote trips to Africa. Our members are German tour operators, airlines, tourism boards as well as hoteliers and incoming agencies (DMCs) from the destinations and guide book publishers. We are assisting our members to approach the German market as well as network among our members and grow partnerships. In our training sessions as webinars or roadshows we train travel agents and improve product knowledge as well as updates from our participating partners. The ASA supports fam-trips in an annual workshop event to our partner destinations called ASA goes Africa. Up to 120 travel agents visit different destinations and routes and meet for a final workshop in a central location.

 Niels: Why do you focus on southern and eastern Africa ?

Guido: South Africa and East Africa are the big tourism blocks in Africa. Initially the association was founded from and for companies offering southern Africa. 20 years ago our former president Werner Gordes initiated the opening for East Africa as well. I became president of ASA in 2023 and we are very happy that we will welcome our first West-African destination member this year. But the focus of ASA will remain on the sub-Saharan destinations and tourism products.

 Niels: Are there any local tour operators (in Africa) that you work with?

 Guido: Almost half of our members come from Africa, predominantly hotels, camps, lodges and incoming agencies. Even some airlines.

 Niels: Why are you taking part in the CMT trade fair? What are the goals ?

Guido: CMT is Europe’s largest tourism expo where major tour operators and specialists promote their trips and tours. ASA as association does not target consumers directly, but we are offering a joint stand for our members to attend on expos. Our partners do only need to send promotional material and attend the expo which is a big benefit and time saver. Local suppliers partner with German operators to sell their products to adhere to the sales chain. Consumer expos are still a big driver in sales but as well generating visibility, inspiring and providing information on specific travel requests. And it is a big room for networking and updating each other within the tourism fraternity.

Niels: Regarding the future of tourism in Africa: What will change? What is  “in” right now?

Guido: Bush and beach are still the most requested trips to Africa. Many destinations have already started diversifying their products to cover not only local demands from their growing middle class but also international niches such as sports, cultural, outdoor or adventure, culinary or MICE.

But the main motivation to travel remains the same: seeking relaxation.

Environmentally friendly travel will gain more momentum as well as immersive cultural experiences. Travellers are looking for authentic experiences as well as unspoilt landscapes and wildlife.

Niels: Thank you for this interview.