The aftermath of Global Citizen Festival

The Global Citizen Festival took place on Sunday, 2 December 2018 at the FNB Stadium in Johannesburg. The festival was probably the most anticipated event of the year since its announcement earlier this year, because it coincided with the Nelson Mandela’s centenary. The line-up of the event was insane as included the Carters (Beyonce and Jay Z), Pharell William, Cassper Nyovest, Sho Madjozi to name a few. Other prominent names in the global entertainment industry such as SA’s very own Trevor Noah, Oprah, Tyler Perry amongst others.
The event also attracted big brands to be a part of it given the publicity it was getting. The likes of Vodacom, Johnson & Johnson, Multichoice, Motsepe, Coca Cola Africa were some of the major partners of the Global Citizen Festival. The intention of the festival was to raise awareness around many social ills including ending poverty by the year 2030. 70% of the tickets were given away and people had to earn their tickets by taking action through any of Global Citizen’s partners.
Although Global Citizen surpassed its goal for commitments of USD $1 billion by seven times, it is unfortunate that events that occurred post the festival overshadowed what the festival achieved. When you google Global Citizen only the “bad news” occur at the top of results page. These are the news about how people were robbed, stabbed and lack of police visibility after the festival. These horrifying news are damaging to the Global Citizen brand and South Africa as a tourist destination.
The global community’s perception of South Africa, particularly Johannesburg is that it is a dangerous place with some labelling the city as the capital city of crime. Hence, their reasons for not wanting to visit the country which affects the tourism industry. Yes, there is crime in other countries but when large numbers of South Africans including media houses go online to write and speak about the bad stuff especially after an event that attracted the world’s attention, they are shooting themselves in the foot. It is damaging to the SA brand. Travelers engage with online platforms sites to research trips, make informed decisions about their travels and share their personal experiences of a particular hotel, restaurant or airline. If travelers see only negative stuff about a destination particularly from the locals they will be reluctant to visit that destination.
This is not to say that the police should not be called to order when they fail to execute their duties. However, South Africans need to be aware of the ripple effect of their actions on the tourism industry. On his state of the nation address, President Cyril Ramaphosa earmarked the tourism industry as one of the most important sectors that will drive economic growth. According to the World Tourism & Travel Council(WTTC) 2018 marked a record year for SA tourism. The WTTC forecasts that the sector will contribute R424.5bn to the overall SA economy in 2018 – about 3% more than in 2017. Travel and tourism supported 1.5 million jobs in SA in 2017 – 9.5% of total employment in the country.
The growth of the tourism in South Africa is a much needed one considering the high unemployment rate especially amongst the youth. According to StatsSA 1 international tourist creates 11 jobs. The Global Citizen Festival saw an influx of international tourists. Trevor Noah came with his Daily Show Crew for example. If the crew consisted of 11 members that is 121 jobs created. The crew members needed accommodation, cars to get around, visited tourist destinations leaving money behind. Ideally, South Africa needs them to come visit again with their loved ones.
It is without doubt that events such as Global Citizen Festival, Afro Punk etc are important for tourism and Brand SA. Therefore, the negative posts on social media and other online platforms about the Global Citizen Festival will have an adverse impact on the SA tourism in the long run. Media houses must also stop glorifying such stories as they taint the image of brand South Africa. On the other hand the law enforcement authorities also need to up their game in protecting people who attend these big events and the image of our country.