Wakanda Forever

by: Andreas Weissenborn, Destinations International Foundation

Like many people today, I was in shock with the passing of Chadwick Boseman on August 28th and frankly, I find myself grieving. Boseman’s link to the Black Panther from the Marvel Cinematic Universe is indelible and will endure in that genre for generations to come.

It is hard to overstate the cultural significance the Marvel Cinematic Universe has had on generations growing up, my own tying back to the late 80’s and early 90’s to the original comics. Black Panther is especially significant as it is the first major Marvel black character to get his own solo film. Beyond just the importance of King T’Challa (Black Panther), it is also the lore surrounding him, his powers, and his country, Wakanda that simply delight the imagination. I was so looking forward to where they would take his character in, hopefully taking cues from the comics (where he marries X-Men’s Storm character) and other incredible story arcs.

In my own tribute to him, I thought I would write about the country of Wakanda, which his character held so dear and ask the question, what would a destination organization look like for the country of Wakanda?

Black Panther promotional poster

To start, it is important to ask, would Wakanda even need a destination organization? They are renowned for their country being shielded from the outside world and are considered one of the most technically advanced countries on the planet with their ability to harness the power of vibranium (an almost indestructible material that also makes up Captain America’s shield). But that would be like asking if Florida, with its miles of beaches and amazing amusement parks needs a destination organization.  Of course they would.

I believe they would need to a destination organization from the events that we’re left off at the end of 2018’s movie, where King T’Challa declared they would begin to share their knowledge and technological experiences with the outside world. What better way to enter the world stage than with a world class destination organization?

How would they fund it? Since no known visitors nor hotels or other visitor economy existed in Wakanda, they would need to rely on our community-benefit model to get started. I believe they should consider levying a tax on transactions related to vibranium to help initially seed the destination organization, along with contributions from other Wakanda businesses, who would benefit from visitors.

From there, a governance structure would need to be set. I would recommend a mixture of the current socio-political structural as a key part of the board structure, with representation of each of Wakanda’s five tribes on the board, and additional seats filled by private industries (most notably raw metals and natural environment). Given he is both King of Wakanda and its largest brand ambassador, I would recommend King T’Challa as both President/CEO of the destination organization and chairman of the board.

To hit the ground running, Visit Wakanda would begin with a massive worldwide campaign to introduce Wakanda to the world, with a paid media campaign followed with allowing social media influencers to build earned media (#WakandaForever) of the destination. Given how technologically advanced Wakanda is, it is implied its meeting facilities and conference centers would also be world class. King T’Challa would make sure his convention sales team is placed on every major tradeshow in the world while also having his PR + Group Tour department hosting FAM trips every week. Their goal would be to target clients that typically look at Tokyo, London, New York as part of their comp set.

As visitors would begin to arrive, Visit Wakanda would hope to use this success to build support for other tourism assets; build museums detailing the rich history of Wakanda and their five tribes, nature reserves showing the rich wildlife that also inhabits Wakanda, and sporting arenas to allow teams of all sports to be played in the hometown.

King T’Challa would take great care to convey to the residents of Wakanda the need for destination promotion and would engage them in the development of the quality of place being built by Visit Wakanda. The investments T’Challa and team are providing the country will benefit for generations to come.

As the pandemic has shown us, a destination cannot simply rely on a single source for funding or investment. A time might come where Wakanda can no longer mine vibranium or the mantle of Black Panther will no longer be needed, at least they would have invested in their destination organization and have tourism to fall back on. #WakandaForever.

RIP Chadwick Boseman.

About the Author

Andreas WeissenbornVice President of Research and AdvocacyDestinations International

About the Author

Introduced to the industry by a random internship application to Visit Baltimore, Andreas began an unexpected career that left him with a continued passion towards tourism. He leads the research and advocacy efforts of the entire organization with an eye towards developing data-driven tools to help destinations around the world tell their story.

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