Tourism industry organisations are urging everyone in the industry to speak as “one voice” to ensure the message that “South Africa remains open for business” amid the outbreak of the coronavirus.
“In light of the questions arising from members surrounding the coronavirus, SATSA has facilitated a discussion between leading DMCs and the Sales Thought Leadership Forum – comprising 19 leading hotel and lodge operators in South Africa,” said SATSA CEO, David Frost, highlighting that these industry stakeholders had proposed a recommended position for incremental bookings from March 1.
“It is critically important that South Africa be perceived as a business-friendly destination with regard to policies and trading terms and not halt the forward bookings we may do with unfriendly booking policies. In light of this, we urge the broader membership to adopt this position moving forward,” said Frost.
He said the Sales Forum would revisit the position in a month’s time unless SA became an affected area. Further details about the proposed policies and trading terms can be obtained directly from SATSA.
Frost said with the proposed positioning, SATSA was “igniting the discussion” and would welcome additional comments and different perspectives from industry on how to take this message forward.
“We would welcome an opportunity to engage in open dialogue with all our partners so we can keep our members fully informed,” he said.
Owner of Classic Portfolios, Suzanne Bayly-Coupe, has acknowledged the global uncertainty around current bookings as well as planning new trips.
“As we stand in this together, the Classic Portfolio members will be flexible with deposit payments, cancellation policies and confirmation dates,” she said in a note sent out to customers today.
Meanwhile, Chief Convention Bureau Officer: South African Tourism, Amanda Kotze-Nhlapo, agreed with the need for industry to collaborate. “We need to stand together and be supportive of each other during this challenging time. It’s also our duty to message responsibly to the industry and consumers while being sympathetic at the same time.”
She told Tourism Update that SA Tourism would be rolling out a communications plan to the industry to ensure that everyone was kept abreast of changing conditions about the outbreak of the coronavirus.