Following CapeInfo's inspiring interview with Sisa Ntshona, CEO of SA Tourism, we posed the following question to the CEOs (copied to their PAs) of all SA's provincial tourism authorities, "Given President Ramaphosa’s goal of doubling the size of SA’s tourism industry, what needs to be achieved in your province to realise this?"
That Limpopo, Mpumalanga and North West didn't respond is a shame.
So if you live in those provinces, or if you're a tour operator operating in those provinces, please let us know how you think these provincial authorities are doing, and what they need to do to double tourism to these areas. And if you are in any of the other provinces, or a foreign traveller or tour operator, we'd love your comments on what needs to be done to achieve the President's goal. Click here to comment or scroll to the bottom of the page.
We also wanted to get a feel of what the major cities have planned. Cape Town was on the ball (as usual), but Durban didn't respond and we just couldn't get contact details for Johannesburg Tourism from Gauteng Tourism or Port Elizabeth from Eastern Cape Parks & Tourism. It makes one wonder...
Apart from Cape Town & the Western Cape's Air Access initiative, (which we called The Biggest Tourism Achievement of the Decade in 2016, and has already added 1.5 million airline seats in and out of Cape Town) and Cape Town Tourism's New York partnership, there's very little in the content below that really drives big numbers. And that's all that counts.
There's a lot on strategies which really is a big yawn. It makes me think of George Uriesi when he was appointed an Airports Company GM. He took his staff off on a bosberaad and told them at the outset, "I don't want to hear strategies, I want Action Plans!" And Apps alone are never going to drive big numbers. Cyril Ramaphosa was a very successful businessman, and he will demand bottom-line numbers and accountability. And to paraphrase Sisa Ntshone: "Tourism is not a holiday, it's business!"
Tourism is a perishable industry, like fruit and veg. If you don't sell bodies into beds, and bottoms onto restaurant, bus and airline seats today, they are lost forever.
We'd really like to hear your views on how South Africa can double the size of its tourism industry.
"Wesgro has identified four key interventions that would significantly assist in boosting tourism to Cape Town and the Western Cape. The first is continuing to land direct routes to Cape Town International Airport (CTIA), through our Air Access initiative. Our focus will be to land a direct route to the USA in particular. To date, the initiative has helped land 13 new routes, and 14 route expansions since its inception in 2015 adding over 1.5 million seats in both directions.
"Making it easier to access our destination by air will be of great assistance, but the regulatory framework must complement this. An overhaul of the VISA regulations, which suppressed tourist arrivals from growth markets such as India and China, should therefore be a top priority. We welcome President Ramaphosa’s focus on this particular challenge during his State of the Nation Address, and we hope that this will result in real change in the coming months.
"In order to grow tourism as a sector, an environment in which small businesses from all communities across the province can flourish must be created. Like all other SMMEs, the tourism sector therefore needs more support, with a key focus on cutting red tape. Too many regulatory hurdles stand in the way of new entrants into the economy. If these are removed, we will see many more South Africans benefiting from increased international and domestic arrivals into the Western Cape. This is vital for inclusive economic growth.
"Finally, but of equal importance, more resources are needed to stimulate demand. This is done through destination marketing in particular, so that more potential tourists are made aware of the many unique and exciting experiences that await them in the Western Cape. For this to happen, funding for marketing in both source and growth markets is required. We were pleased with President Ramaphosa’s mention of this important component in his SONA."
"In Cape Town, marketing efforts are being redoubled; the water shortage has been a setback in terms of bookings and in managing our brand, so now’s the time to repair our brand and market our destination along with aligned messaging that water resources must be adequately managed and preserved.
"We’re also planning on growing our market share and we aim to do this by continuing with initiatives geared towards increasing awareness of the city and its many offerings as a destination. For example, our partnership with our counterparts in New York City, NYC & Company sees each city marketing the other. This relationship is a first for the African continent and presents a great opportunity for us to realise the President’s vision, since New York City is the biggest travel hub in the US.
"A second example would be our campaign that seeks to increase the city’s ability to welcome Muslim travellers, a major global market. We investigated what needs to be done to make our city more Muslim-friendly – although we have a large Muslim community, we’re seeking to get more businesses to provide Muslim-friendly food options, for example, as a first step towards preparing businesses to also branch out into catering for the other requirements from Muslim travellers, such as prayer and ablution facilities.
"Cape Town Tourism also wants to double the size of the tourism economy - it’s essential that the industry grows across the board and specifically SMMEs. According to Stats SA, by 2030 90 percent of all jobs created will be in the SMME sector so SMME growth is critical, and we know that tourism offers one of the lowest barriers to access. We’re committed to driving transformation of the tourism industry with initiatives such as our Chairman’s eKasi sessions in Khayelitsha, Langa and Mitchells Plain, as well as Cape Town Tourism’s Board Development Fund which empowers and provides funding and mentorship to small businesses."
"Gauteng Tourism Authority was already engaged in efforts to grow visitor numbers even before President Cyril Ramaphosa’s state of the nation address. The “five in five” strategy that the South African Tourism adopted last year enjoins us to ensure that tourism numbers by 5 million in the next five years. Gauteng is already the most-visited province in South Africa – a pole position that impels us to play a leading role in growing tourism. South African Tourism expects Gauteng to deliver 1.4 million more visitors in the five years as its contribution to the “five in five” target. A sum of 1.12 million should comprise international visitors with the remaining 280 000 domestic. We are up to the challenge.
"One of the key areas that we seek to strengthen our work is research. We want high-quality intelligence to inform all our programmes to sell destination Gauteng so that we get maximum bang for buck. Furthermore, it is important that we streamline the work that we do to focus on tourism market with the greatest potential. The integrated marketing Strategy that we adopted in 2017 clarifies that positioning that will maximise our effectiveness in attracting increasing numbers of visitors. It further recommends a renewed focus on our core tourism markets locally, in the region, the continent and abroad.
"It is in the context that we welcome the president’s commitment to provide additional support to our destination marketing efforts. The undertaking to further find ways to reduce regulator barriers affecting the sectors and to develop emerging tourism businesses resonate with us. We believe that these measures will go a long way in helping us achieve our objective of growing the visitor economy and creating jobs in the process. Furthermore, on your part, we will endeavour to keep pace with the evolving digital landscape. Visitors increasingly use digital technologies and platforms to explore, research, confirm and ultimately share their experiences online. The use of digital technologies has subsequently become critical for achieving strategic competitiveness within destination marketing. Therefore, we will continue to invest in our digital assets including the website, Gauteng.net, and social media presence. Our Twitter, Facebook and Instagram have increasingly become first ports of call for those seeking all manner of experiences and products that the Gauteng City Region offers."
“On the international tourism front, as KwaZulu-Natal, we continue to engage with our international partners to lobby to get KZN in as many brochure listings and packaging as possible and we’ve had a few successes in markets like Germany, France, Netherlands and the UK. We are also working with a number of international investors to ensure that our tourism offerings are diverse and speak to what the international markets wants. We are making strides there as well. Over the past few years, we have managed to get a number of international airlines to land directly at King Shaka International Airport which opens up a lot more markets for KZN.
"On the domestic front, in October last year, we launched our “Do KZN “campaign targeting locals and domestic travellers. The campaign is aimed at making travel easy, with specials and tailor-made packages to suit various lifestyles and needs. So, if travellers are looking for a short holiday with the family at the beach, a romantic getaway, luxury travel, a safari or adventure, we have done all the ground work for them, so their dream holiday can be just a few clicks away. And for this, we are working very closely with our trade partners to get travellers value for money specials and packages. We want to encourage an all-round culture of travel within the local market, and we believe this will go a long way towards growing the sector, not only for the domestic market but for the international market as well.
"We are also taking advantage of the digital era and understanding that travellers want information at their fingertips. Quite soon, we will be launching our mobile APP which will assist travellers to navigate through the province with ease."
ECPTA is tasked with promoting the tourism sector of the Eastern Cape and welcomes the President’s vision for tourism within South Africa. The Eastern Cape Province is endowed with unparalleled natural beauty that’s next to none, this tourist haven has vast potential for a thriving tourism sector.
In light of the declining marketing budget the way forward is through collaboration with private and public sector partners who are heavily investing in marketing not only their product and tourism offering but also marketing the destination. ECPTA sees the need to invest in the tourism trade channel to drive incremental growth through diversifying the tourism offering, educating the travel trade and packaging regions effectively to meet the needs of travelers. ECPTA will also continue to focus on core markets such as UK, Germany and Benelux and invest in other lucrative markets such as the Nordic Countries, USA, Australia New Zealand and China as these markets will enable the province to assist in meeting the national SAT 5 in 5 strategy. At the same time the agency will not let the ball drop when it comes to domestic marketing as this is our bread and butter.
With that being said the province faces numerous challenges that stifle the tourism sector which include accessibility to natural resources, heritage and vibrant cultural life (rural and township) that make up the provincial tourism essence (i.e. the beaches, mountains, heritage and historic sites). ECPTA tries to meet this challenge by profiling the province through tourism routes that geographically spread across the province, these are - Frontier country, Friendly N6, Karoo heartland, Wildcoast, Kouga region, Tsitsikama, Sunday’s River valley, Amathole mountain escape and Sunshine coast.
The agency will also specifically use coastal tourism routes namely: Tsitsikama, Kouga, Sunshine coast and Wildcoast for its domestic strategy for the year. Current focus will also be on the Amatole mountain escape, Frontier country and Wild coast as they ready and prepare for the Nelson Mandela centenary celebrations by unearthing places that Madiba used to frequent in support of the liberation sites and the SAT Madiba journey campaign. A campaign that seeks to profile a 100 places of the country that have a special connection to the late statesmen, these in the province will include places such as Forth Hare, Qunu, Nelson Mandela Museum and Mqhekezweni to mention a few.
The province is also catching up with its peers a far as the digital age of destination marketing, product development and packaging is concerned. In this regard the province is embarking on the development of an Eastern Cape app that is going to profile and package product offerings in a responsive, quick and convenient way for travellers, this too will be in collaboration with the overall South African Tourism app.
This is specifically imperative as domestic tourism is proven to be one of our low hanging fruits within various facets of the sector including cultural and rural tourism which are worldwide phenomenon’s that we should be taping into as we have them in abundance.
It then becomes a necessity to have a tourism sector supported approach for marketing and developing the tourism product offering that transcends beyond government and includes various role players that include the private sector for a holistic approach that sustains and grows the tourism sector of the province.
"Domestic tourism is playing an increasingly important role to foster growth in the tourism sector of the Northern Cape. As one of the most dynamic contributors to the GDP of the province, the sustainability of tourism growth depends on capturing a greater share of the domestic tourism market. Tourism success is based on collaboration and in this light we have entered into a memorandum of understanding with South African Tourism based on the 5 in 5 strategy. Whilst our task is to create the demand appetite and desire to travel to the Northern Cape, we are dependent on the Northern Cape`s Tourism industry to ensure that we develop target market specific offerings, tourism routes and seasonal campaigns that will appeal to the local tourism market, deliver exceptional services, enhance the quality of our tourism experience and above all to drive conversion.
"The Northern Cape personifies the magic and mystery of rural tourism with its hidden gems stretching across 360 000 square kilometres. The tourism authority and product owners have made a concerted effort to develop specific routes that will entice visitors into the heart of the rural areas.
"Rural tourism strategies have earmarked the importance of heritage and cultural offerings as some of the fastest emerging competitive niche tourism products within the global industry, while abundant natural resources act as a primary attraction for visitors. The Northern Cape has been blessed as it offers unsurpassed natural beauty combined by the ancient mysteries of age-old indigenous tribes, who have made the province their home resulting in an incredibly diverse cultural heritage.
"The Northern Cape’s “It is your province enjoy it” campaign is focused on the various routes throughout the province that will entice travellers to veer off the beaten track to explore the hidden gems of the province and subsequently spend more time in the province. These routes traverse the province along major highways and connect little towns and villages that will offer visitors a glimpse into the heart, culture, and history of this magnificent province.
"Some of the routes include the Karoo Hoogland Route which traverses through the heart of the Karoo and offers South Africa’s best stargazing, the Kalahari Red Dune Route that is the gateway to the world-renowned Kgalagadi Transfrontier Park, the Namakwa Coastal Route along the west coast, the Kokerboom Food and Wine Route between Upington and Augrabies and the Richtersveld Route, which takes in a World Heritage Site and leads into the |Ai-| Ais Richtersveld Transfrontier Park.
"Our seasonal campaigns highlight unique offerings that are available in the province such as the annual flower season in the Namaqua, which is considered to be a global natural phenomenon or the myriad of water-based activities that makes the province an ideal summer destination and the bounty of Mother Nature that can be seen at the numerous national and provincial parks and private game reserves, which are particularly great winter destinations.
"For the sustainability of tourism as an industry within the Northern Cape, we need to entrench a culture of domestic tourism. We want to encourage Northern Cape residents and South Africans to explore and be tourists in their own country. We want to inspire domestic tourists to enjoy the benefits of our world-class tourism destination, to reconnect with friends and family and to relish the emotional benefit of discovering the world - right on their doorsteps. By appealing to our domestic tourists, we are able to face the challenge of geographical spread and seasonality.
"The diversity of Northern Cape offerings will appeal to various segments of the domestic tourism market. There is something in the province that would appeal to the spontaneous young budget explorers, who are looking for spur-of-the-moment activity filled breaks, families wanting to reward themselves with special offers, or families eager to explore new destinations that present value for money. Whether you’re looking for an adrenaline-inducing outdoor adventure, cultural enrichment, some quality time with the family, jam-packed breakaways or the serenity of the great outdoors to escape the bustle of city life, the Northern Cape has an authentic travel experience for everyone."— Sharron Lewis, CEO of Northern Cape Tourism
- The first thing to do will be to develop a Mobile App that gives people all the information about all the things they can enjoy in the province. This goes for our website as well.
- Second thing is to have tourism packages that are competitive enough ito pricing
- We need to diversify our product offering. We have to develop new products, especially niche products that will attract people from near and far.
- We must also leverage our rich liberation and heritage credentials into key new frontiers and for pillars of our revised Marketing Strategy.
- Focus our energy and resources towards our identified and confirmed source markets (Provincially, Regionally and Internationally)
- Strengthen our partnerships and or collaborations with strategic industry stakeholders.
— Kenny K. Dichabe, CEO of Free State Tourism