Celebrities Boosting Tourism

Malawi Sunset

Malawi Sunset

I suppose it makes perfect sense, but it is a facet of the tourism industry I had not thought much about: Celebrities traveling to, and staking a philanthropic or charitable claim in, a destination can lead to a huge boon in tourism. Madonna, it was recently reported, is considered largely, though certainly not entirely, responsible for the 181% increase of tourism to Malawi in the past seven years–a number that outpaces the region as well as the entire rest of the world. Her repeated and very public visits there over the years, her work building schools, her adoption of two children from the impoverished nation…all of it has put Malawi on the map for curious international travelers, and visitor numbers have skyrocketed.

The BBC report I saw also discussed Prince Harry‘s visit and establishment of a charity in Lesotho leading to a sharp spike in vacations planned there. Angelina Jolie‘s activism and dedication to local communities is credited with a large influence on the nearly 400% growth of tourism to Cambodia over the past several years since her very public early visits in 2000, also building her family  through adoption.

Say what you will about celebrity, but bringing attention to vital issues, and somehow influencing curious vacationers to spend money in destinations whose economies are aching for an influx, seems like a very good thing.

I just thought that was kind of cool…

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