Despite the massive cut to its marketing budget, South African Tourism is still focused on various projects for the remainder of the year.
During the Budget vote in late July, Deputy Minister of Tourism, Fish Mahlalela, said SA Tourism would be working on a solution to encourage the geographic spread of tourism business events and broadening participation in the sector.
“SA Tourism is developing a framework to capacitate national associations to host business events in villages and small towns across the nine provinces,” said Mahlalela.
In an exclusive interview with Tourism Update, he said the budget cut wouldn’t affect this programme. “The budget for this framework is still available. The training of national associations will occur this year to prepare for the reopening of the sector to international markets,” said Mahlalela.
“With this framework, we will have all the information for the next financial year on what is available in these towns and dorpies to host events. The marketing and implementation will occur in the next financial year.”
Big Ambitions MD, Natalia Rosa, said the budget cut should not worry the sector as much of the private-sector marketing far outweighed that of government.
“We can market our country as a safe destination but this is only possible if we do it together as an industry,” said Rosa. “The pandemic has presented us with the unique opportunity to be more integrated and go out to the world with a unified message of why to visit our country once borders are open.”
She said there was a need for a mind-set change on waiting for government to market the country as a top destination. “We need to empower ourselves and market our destination before our products, with a collaborated effort and budgets.
“As helpless as we might feel in this difficult time, we cannot sit back and expect government to market our destination alone because now they don’t have the means to do so.”
Rosa said South Africa had the opportunity to position itself as a perfect post-COVID destination because of its tourism assets. “Can you imagine if we as the private sector went out to the world with all of our budgets used to market our own products with a unified message? We wouldn’t need to wait for government.”
During a Euronews Debates webinar on Africa-European tourism, CEO of SA Tourism, Sisa Ntshona, said tourism remained important to the government as a “main sustainable service revenue generator”.
“In South Africa, tourism is part and parcel of our national development plan. The tension lies between the government having to make the tough decisions on shutting down sectors,” said Ntshona.
“The revised National Tourism Sector Strategy envisages sustainable development and growth of tourism enterprises in a manner that facilitates inclusive participation, job creation and contributes to the competitiveness of tourism destinations.”
Ntshona concluded that SA Tourism was encouraging the sector to continuing self-regulating with the protocols, especially with restarting domestic tourism. “We have a strong international market and weaker domestic market and we want to correct that,” he said.
“We need to ensure domestic tourism is strong and that all product offerings can meet the demand of the domestic market.”