Marketing Cold War tourism in the Belgian Congo : a study in colonial propaganda 1945-1960

Wigley, Andrew Paul (2014-12)

Thesis (MA)--Stellenbosch University, 2014.


ENGLISH ABSTRACT: This study focuses on the nascent colonial tourist sector of the Belgian Congo from 1945 until independence in 1960. Empire in Africa was the last remaining vestige of might for the depleted European imperial powers following the Second World War. That might, however, was largely illusory, especially for Belgium, which had been both defeated and occupied by Germany. Post-war Belgium placed much value on its colonial role in the Belgian Congo, promoting and marketing its imperial mission to domestic and international audiences alike. Such efforts allowed Belgium to justify a system that was under fire from the new superpowers of the United States of America (USA) and the Soviet Union. This thesis makes the case that the Belgian authorities recognised the opportunity to harness the ‘new’ economic activity of tourism to help deliver pro-colonial propaganda, particularly to the USA which had a growing affluent class and where successive administrations were keen to encourage overseas travel. In building a tourism sector post the Second World War, efforts in diversifying the economy were secondary to the objective of using the marketing of tourism to actively position and promote Belgium’s long-term involvement in the Congo.

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