Tag Archives: Tourism

When will tourism in SA open again?

“It will not be business as usual in the tourism sector in the post-COVID-19 era,” he said, appealing to the TBCSA to tailor-make tour packages for SADC, Africa, and Brics countries.  “This will be one of the strategies boosting regional tourism and supporting the recovery and sustainability of the tourism sector in the foreseeable future.” — Supra Mahumapelo, chair of Parliament’s Tourism Portfolio Committee

Before we get to Mahumapelo’s statement, it’s important to realise that — under Level 3 of the Lockdown — tourism has already been opened with the addition of business travel to permitted activities.  And for many tourism businesses, the business tourist was what they relied upon most.  (Of course, under Level 4, there was some accommodation business through essential workers, isolation, etc.)

It is likely that business tourism will start slowly and will take a long time — years not months — before it ever gets close to what it was pre-Covid-19.  The Airports Company, in a presentation to parliament — said traffic is likely to still be down 20% on 2019 figures in 6 years time.  In the first two months of the State of Disaster, many companies realised how much they can do with video conferencing, and travel expenses will be looked at very carefully in a crisis economy.  (Government will probably be the biggest user of air travel… because it’s at taxpayers’ cost.)  I recall Johann Rupert saying about 10 years ago that he ran his global empire largely through video conferencing from home in Somerset West.

Saving one tourism business at a time

Covid-19 precautionsCapeInfo also took a very hard look at what we could do to help our clients, and we discovered that Self-catering accommodation is not specifically included in any government restrictions (although AirbBnB was and still is).  Self-catering properties account for over a third of CapeInfo’s 4,000 accommodation listings.  We wrote to all our clients over a month ago suggesting that self-catering properties should look for long-term guests for the next year.

Taking our cue from the Government directive that “Those above the age of 60 and those with underlying conditions should remain at home,” CapeInfo started to promote self-catering to that group.  A self-catering cottage on a farm or at the beachside will be a far better place to sit out the crisis than in a city which is the epicentre of a disaster. It addresses both mental and physical health.

Not everybody can afford this, but there are many who can and who can be contributing to saving the tourism infrastructure and livelihoods in other areas.  The next few months will be a very tough time.

CapeInfo’s home page addresses our Covid-19 responses and properties providing accommodation for business travellers or essential workers, isolation or long stays can identify themselves on CapeInfo as offering these services.  They are businesses whose full contact details are shown and all bookings are free of commissions..  While final bookings may go through an online booking engine, we believe that all arrangements should be made person-to-person through phone, email or chat applications.

Responses by the Tourism Industry

The minister of tourism provided scant leadership and divided the industry by the affirmative action requirements for the Tourism Relief Fund.  Her late response for Tourist Guides ended up offering them a payout of R1,500 per month for three months with no affirmative action requirements.  The SA Tourism webinar with the minister to talk to the industry was an embarrassment.  Up until that stage,  the industry had been floundering with nothing concrete to offer.  The minister did say, however, that it was up to the Tourism Business Council (TBCSA) to come up with proposals for an opening of the industry before the planned December 2020 for domestic tourism and February 2021 for international travel.

A week later, another webinar… this was Cape Town Tourism presenting their recovery strategy — and it probably way ahead of any other tourism marketing organisation in SA.  It was excellent!  (The Canary Islands recovery budget of 24 million euros (about R465 million)  was announced on March 3, ten days before Spain declared is State of Alert, to reactivate their main markets later in the year.  Now that’s proactive!)

The TBCSA, along with SATSA and Fedhasa eventually launched the COVID19 Protocols for Tourism Industry Operations. and presented its proposals to Parliament’s Tourism Portfolio Committee last week.  That’s where Supra Mahumapelo, the committee’s chairman was reported as saying, “It will not be business as usual in the tourism sector in the post-COVID-19 era,” he said, appealing to the TBCSA to tailor-make tour packages for SADC, Africa, and Brics countries.  “This will be one of the strategies boosting regional tourism and supporting the recovery and sustainability of the tourism sector in the foreseeable future.” Committee members said that it could be too soon to consider reopening tourism, as South Africa has yet to reach the peak in Covid-19 infections and flatten the curve, which experts estimate could happen around September.

David Maynier, Western Cape’s minister responsible for tourism, told CapeInfo that “The portfolio committee does not have a mandate to determine what source markets the provincial government can or should target for international tourism. We are working hard to open the tourism sector safely, and will continue to target existing markets, and explore new markets.”  Committee members said that it could be too soon to consider reopening tourism, as South Africa has yet to reach the peak in Covid-19 infections and flatten the curve, which experts estimate it could happen around September.

The ANC’s ideologies will ruin tourism, if they are ever implemented, in the same way that they have ruined scores of state owned enterprises.  That’s the only track record the ANC has.

I can’t understand why the TBCSA focused on international travel, when the priority is to open domestic travel and demonstrate what the industry can achieve.  Opening for international tourism is not a matter of just opening the borders — there will have to be reciprocal agreements between each country.  Germany, one of SA’s  key source markets, for example, has said that its borders will remain closed to any country where there is a lockdown still in force.  SA’s lockdown is expected to continue through into 2021  — although Level 1 of the lockdown allows international flights.

And the provinces are at very different stages of the pandemic and preparedness.

Alan Winde, the Western Cape’s premier, is — as far as I’m aware — the only SA politician who is coming through the disaster with a universally high approval rating.  And the province is months ahead of some other provinces.

Will government end the Western Cape’s lockdown before other provinces if its peak is reached sooner and Covid-19 cases are under control?

An important question that needs to be asked, is “Will government  end the Western Cape’s lockdown before the other provinces if its peak is reached sooner and once Covid-19 cases are under control?” The Western Cape’s Covid-19 peak is expected at the end of June and into July, four months before the Eastern Cape in October and November.

If I was the owner or CEO of a big tourism company, I’d bypass the junior bureaucrats at the tourism organisations and start layering up for a legal fight with government, the likes of which have never been seen before.  Tourism does seem to lack the trailblazing titans that I remember from 20 years ago.  (Companies that do have insurance for the losses they are incurring have been told that they are not covered, since losses are not a result of the pandemic, but by governments regulations.)

Government’s delivery is cause for concern

If government cannot deliver on the health infrastructure needed, and SA replays the scenes the world saw coming out of Italy, all hopes for opening international travel sooner will be dashed.  If the economic meltdown creates a social crisis, Brand South Africa will be in tatters.

  • Government estimates that SA will need between 25,000 and 35,000 ICU beds between August and September.
  • At the end of May, the health department said that there were currently only 2,309 critical care beds available for Covid-19 patients.
  • During the first two months of the lockdown, government only added 207 critical care beds. 

In a report by the Eastern Cape provincial government, they expect between 5 500 to 6 000 fatalities:  “Based on projections and the data supplied on 14 May 2020, it would appear that the E-Cape does not have enough capability in place to manage the demand of the pandemic. Unless capabilities are exponentially and rapidly increased, the province will experience a situation where the demand will exceed supply.

“It would appear based on the projections that demand will outstrip supply by early to mid-July 2020. It would appear from the data that the lockdown did not produce the required increase in capacity in the Eastern Cape to deal with the future demand.”  Really?  Do lockdowns produce an increase in capacity?

The cornerstone of SA’s Covid-19 programme was mass testing and screening, and tracing the infected people.  The health minister targeted 30,000 tests a day.  When delays of 14 days for the results occurred, the Western Cape abandoned mass testing because tracing became impossible.  Members of the Medical Advice Committee (MAC) had been calling for the strategy to be revised and they were ignored.

Just as the advice from members of the MAC to abandon the lockdown had been rejected a month before.

One has to wonder if all the irritating regulations coming out of the National Coronavirus Command Council are a smokescreen, to divert attention away from government’s shortcomings, failings and radical economic transformation agendas.  They have certainly taken government’s eye off the ball.  Opening the economy is as important as saving lives, because the loss of lives from a collapsed economy will be the ultimate disaster.

Why the world needs to redefine tourism now!


Are you one in a billion?

If you travelled internationally in 2015 then you are. In fact you are 1 in 1.2 billion. According to the United Nations World Tourism Organisation that’s how many international trips were made last year. And by 2030 it will be nearly 2 billion.

2030. 2 billion people. Spending just over $2 trillion, in all corners of the world. 2 billion people, experiencing new cultures, sharing new friends, creating new business. 2 billion people providing jobs and an income for 400 million people.

By 2030, Travel & Tourism will be 11% of the world’s economy. Each and every person who travels will play a part in this story of growth, adventure and experience.

But will this story have a happy ending?

When we’re on holiday we can consume double the amount of water we do at home, and can create up to three times the amount of waste. We can alienate local communities by wearing inappropriate clothes, or by going to areas they hold sacred. We can trample on precious biodiversity, or visit places that cannot cope with our presence. We take 32 million flights creating 781 million tonnes of carbon each year.

2030. 2 billion travellers. 4 billion footprints.

We are already seeing the challenges play out.

Overcrowding [Angkor Wat, Venice]

Overcrowding [Angkor Wat, Venice]

Tension between hosts and visitors [Barcelona]

Tension between hosts and visitors [Barcelona]

Biodiversity loss [coral reefs, mangroves]

Biodiversity loss [coral reefs, mangroves]

Impacts of climate change

Impacts of climate change

We need to change how we think about travel if we really want to be sure that the positive impacts outweigh the negative.

The notion of travelling ‘sustainably’ or ‘responsibly’ is certainly not a new one. Since the Brundtland Report first coined the term ‘sustainable development’ in the late 1980s, tourism’s role has been promoted, questioned, and debated. Economic vs environmental impact. Foreign vs local ownership. The visitor vs the visited.

Amongst academics, the international development community, businesses, industry organisations, and NGOs the debate has raged for 30 years. Groups and individuals from around the world have dedicated themselves to raising awareness of the issues around unchecked tourism growth, providing solutions, campaigning for change, and developing new ways of doing tourism that ensure positive impacts.

Across the globe, there are great examples of sustainable tourism in action. WTTC’s Tourism for Tomorrow Awards highlight but a few.

But of last year’s 1.2 billion international travellers, how many knowingly or unknowingly took steps to travel more responsibly?

Evidence suggests relatively few.

Speaking at WTTC’s Global Summit in Dallas, USA, last year, ocean campaigner Fabien Cousteau said: “I look forward to the day when there is no sustainable tourism, just tourism”.

As the realities of climate change begin to emerge, social and political tensions rise across the world, and resources become scarcer in the face of growing populations, there needs to be a step change in how people undertake their travel.

We need to combine the forces of those thought leaders who have been driving the sustainable tourism agenda for so many years, the businesses who provide the means for tourism to happen, and the experts who know how to deliver sustainable development on the ground, with the power of the people who travel.

The seminal phrase of the Brundtland report was “sustainable development is development that meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs”.

We need tourism now and future generations will need tourism. Not just for jobs, livelihoods, and economic growth, but for peace, community, and wellbeing.

It is no longer enough to congratulate ourselves on what we are doing well, or point fingers at what we are not doing so well. We need to pose the tough questions and find the solutions together. What sets tourism apart from other sectors is the fact that most of us who work in it, are also consumers of it.

We each have a perspective but we are in it together. From now on it needs to be “just tourism”.

Let’s get talking about how to make this happen. #RedefineTourism

Originally published on https://medium.com/@WTTC/why-the-world-needs-to-redefine-tourism-now

Call to Action… will Gauteng deliver?

I attended a remarkable tourism conference in Johannesburg on Monday and Tuesday.  It was “The Summit” organised by Gauteng Tourism and the Tourism Business Council, with support from SA Tourism.

I live by the adage “You can’t manage what you can’t measure” and this conference measured everything — there was audience participation at every level: on Twitter (where it trended at #1), after every speaker, and responses were quantified immediately.

So… if politicians are in any doubt about their constituencies’ views… doubt no more.  Will it make any difference?  I will say that in the wrapping up session, I was impressed by the rapid feedback and the commitments given from Gauteng’s political sphere.  Guys, your responses were minuted!  If you deliver, the DA must start worrying…

1402870_515304588566632_2110287828_oFor me, the star of the show was Dawn Robertson.  It was her organisation that played the main role in pulling the conference together.  Quietly spoken, incisive, focused and without any brash bravado.  And hugely committed.  I hope she stays at Gauteng Tourism long enough to make a difference… I will be interviewing her next week so come back for more.

This was a conference where Gauteng came to the table to say we are the Gateway; we are the major roleplayer in tourism.   Or we can be if all the stakeholders come to the table.

SA Tourism was there in a show of force, along with TBCSA and Gauteng politicos and bureaucrats.  Some Gauteng local government speakers did impress; some less.  One figure staggered me — tourism’s contribution to Gauteng’s GDP and jobs is 4.5%.  Wake up guys!  You’re way below the world average and even in the Western Cape it’s 12.5%.  You are not delivering!

Given the nature and goals of this conference, Cape Town played a surprising role.    Mariette du Toit-Helmbold (former Cape Town Tourism CEO) and Judy Lain (Chief Marketing Officer at Wesgro) led two of the breakaway sessions.  Other Capetonians were also there to make their contribution.

Cape Town’s global gateway status was made by guest speaker, Chris Buckingham — former Melbourne Tourism CEO —  when he referred to that city as a “soft landing” for travellers intimidated by perceptions of Africa.  He urged other provinces and regions to grasp the opportunities this presents.  (Nothing demonstrates CapeInfo’s role over the last 17 years better!)

What are the main items which need addressing to make SA’s gateway fly as a tourism destination?

A single destination brand was one.  Who cares about the province?  Johannesburg is South Africa’s gateway.  Growing any other brand to match the Joburg brand is little more than fool’s thinking.  What province or state is London, New York or Paris in?

World class Transport was the other. For me, Gauteng and Johannesburg still epitomise a pre-1980s mindset: throw money at problems.  The Gauteng Road Improvement Project is a disaster.  You find tailbacks at 10am on the brand-new N1!  What will happen in 3 years’ time?  Far too little emphasis is placed on management and maintenance.

Having said that, someone I would love to engage with more is Ismail Vadi, Gauteng’s transport MEC.  He is pragmatic and engaging which leaves me with the question, “Are Gautengers somewhat pathetic consumers?”

So… visit http://www.sasummit.net/ for more.

Profile of 2010 World Cup Fans

Forecasting is either tempting fate and an act of utter foolishness, but then some crystal ball gazing (with the benefit of wisdom and experience) may shed some light on our forthcoming visitors.

Well, the first prediction is a relatively easy one. Two-thirds of all fans, or spectators at matches, will be South Africans. That’s who most tickets are being sold to. So forget about hordes of dollar-, sterling- and euro-flush foreigners banging your doors down. If you’re in the travel and hospitality industries, you better be catering for South Africans first!

Then, when you start looking at where the foreign fans are coming from, read Gillian Saunders’ predictions in an earlier post. Of the 483,000 foreign fans, 151,000 are expected from Africa and 332,000 from overseas.

But will those 332,000 fans actually get here? The maximum airlift of visitors into South Africa ever was in November 2007 when 225,000 overseas visitors arrived by air. There has been a recession since then, there are insufficient flights (until somebody proves me wrong) and airlines are behaving like greedy vultures.

And apparently it’s cheaper to book a holiday in Mauritius and fly there from Europe, with a flight across to South Africa for the game you want to watch, than it is to fly from Europe to South Africa during the World Cup period. Go figure! I predict Mauritius will have higher occupancy rates than South Africa.

And to dispel the dream that every nook and cranny with a bed will be occupied during the World Cup month, let’s borrow another of Gillian Saunder’s stats: total expected foreign visitors for World Cup is 483,000; but in December 2008 South Africa hosted 983,000 foreign tourists.

Doesn’t this all sound very familiar? Does anyone recall what happened around the 1995 Rugby World Cup? Well Bafana Bafana will be the surprise upset of eternity if they match the Springboks 1995 performance, and it seems that occupancy levels will only be slightly higher than that disappointing year.

Okay, so the Inn isn’t full and fans aren’t beating the doors down. (441,695 is a lot of room-nights to release — as MATCH have done — because the demand was poor.)

African countries aside, where will most fans come from? The top countries are the USA (leading by far), UK, Australia, Mexico, Germany and Brazil. I don’t have a clear profile of fans from Africa but I do know affluent tourists from Africa are great shoppers. Johannesburg has replaced Paris and Geneva as the shopping mecca of choice.

I think the American visitors will be great! I know of many who have been planning this trip for over a year. They were prepared to put deposits down way back then if they knew they would get a better deal. Most Americans only get two weeks holiday a year and they will plan that holiday the full year ahead. They usually research their trip thoroughly – cultures, destinations, architecture… you name it… and they are keen explorers when they have access to information. Yes they can be loud and do expect things the American way — except when they decide to step outside of their cultural comfort zone — but they are invariably very polite.

Now I don’t want to comment on the Brits, because they can either be the very best or the very worst of guests. And this was once their colony! The Germans are quite similar, just much more formal, Ja! Their common bond is a love for booze…

The surprisingly large number of Australians are probably mainly South African expats. The World Cup is a great opportunity to visit home and all the remaining relatives. The Mexicans and Brazilians will be a novelty and, hopefully, they’ll be sufficiently impressed to return. But we’ve already published a letter from a Brazilian fan to President Zuma complaining of rip-offs… see the older posts.

FIFA, in a rare dose of common sense, have already said that the usually large hospitality component — companies treating favoured clients to a World Cup junket — will be far less than previous years due to the recession and distances. Now that is a big loss.

Should we be worrying about soccer hooligans? Well if we should, the media should be picking up stories about now of overloaded, beat-up Volksie busses crossing the channel en route to Africa. There’s a lot of rough terrain above us so we’re probably safe. And since few soccer hooligans have a house to mortgage, they’re not going to be able to afford the cost of an air ticket.

And those who do are having second thoughts given the Rambo’s who now run the South African police. “Shoot to kill” is much more dicey than any water cannon. Oh for the days when we proudly proclaimed, “The purple shall govern!” (Before your time? The police used to put purple dye in their water cannons to identify miscreants.)

So… with two South African fans for each foreign fan and eTV hunting out the criminals before the police do, everything seems under control. The accommodation shortage is officially no longer an accommodation shortage and, with MATCH relinquishing their 30%+ commissions, prices are coming down. Now if only the SA government — as South Africa Airways’ only shareholder — would do something about airline prices, all those South Africans might be able to travel to the matches.