Many countries in Africa are currently investing in tourism with the aim of increasing annual tourist flows but majority of them are negatively symbolised at source markets as countries with ‘difficult heritage’. Previous research has indicated that tourism in Africa is perceived as riskier than any comparable region on Earth except the Middle East. It further indicates that negative country images might result in negatively biased destination perceptions and could negatively impact on their competitiveness. This study discusses negative place symbolism at source markets using the social identity theory adjusted, its effect on destination branding programmes and how destinations can deal with it. It utilises a theoretical literature review and empirical synthesis of symbolism with respect to Uganda as a country with difficult heritage and the branding challenges in light of its agenda to increase its international tourism and attract direct foreign investment in the sector.
Key words: Difficult heritage, symbolism, image, destination, negative.
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