Report by Ursula Brown Managing Editor Cape Info SA.
Indaba 2011: Playing globally, winning locally - Indaba is Africa’s biggest travel and tourism trade show, spanning 27,000 square metres. More than 13,000 visitors, 1,300 exhibitors, and over 170 international hosted buyers and hundreds of local and international media were expected this year. (7-11 May 2011 - ICC Durban)
This year the theme is “Playing globally, winning locally”, encapsulated ideals of shared and inclusive growth and job creation in the South African tourism sector, to be achieved by establishing a strong international presence in support of becoming a global player.
“When we talk about tourism, we often talk about policies, statistics and objectives,” said South African tourism minister Marthinus van Schalkwyk. “Tourism is much more than that. Tourism is about people. The magic ingredient that differentiates tourism from every other economic sector is people. International tourism arrivals to South Africa grew by 15.1 per cent in 2010, with the undoubted tourism highlight being our country’s successful hosting of the World Cup. “We are ready to turn this new potential into long term, sustainable growth,” added van Schalkwyk.
One of the highlights Sun 8 May was Global Media Face Off, which saw CNN Business journalist Richard Quest discuss “Emerging Markets and Global Tourism Trends” with journalists from around the world. Anchored by CNN's celebrated journalist Richard Quest, a panel from SAT and related agencies explained to the media the country's plans to take total tourist arrivals figure from 8.1 to 15 million by 2020. To meet such a goal any country would have to think of a mix of unique strategies and panel members explained how they would design a package for tourists that would include, apart from South Africa's celebrated wildlife, an experience of its culture, history and the like.
To ensure continued success, South African Tourism launched a new National Geographic Adventurers Wanted campaign, aimed at entrenching South Africa’s leadership as an adventure destination in seven key markets - Australia, France, Germany, Italy, Netherlands and UK. The new Sho’t Left Campaign will also encourage domestic travel by South Africans.
SA Tourism tasked with local market - State tells SA Tourism to boost domestic travellers at Durban tourism Indaba 2011 in order to create New Growth Path jobs
"There is too much emphasis on international tourism; there is a need to stimulate the domestic market," the department’s director-general, Kingsley Makhubela, said in a panel discussion at the Indaba 2011 tourism exhibition in Durban. South African Tourism has a budget of about R800m this year, about 80% of which will be spent on promoting SA to visitors.Promoting the country to the domestic market and the rest of Africa will take about R54m, South African Tourism CEO Thandiwe January-McLean said. Mr Makhubela said domestic tourist market was the country’s "bread and butter".
The domestic market could be relied on by the industry when financial and economic factors became unfavourable in the international market. "South African Tourism must start to develop key targets to manage our domestic market," Mr Makhubela said.
Under national tourism sector strategy announced this year, government’s aim is to increase foreign tourist arrivals to SA from 7-million in 2023 to 15- million by 2020, tourism’s total contribution to the economy from R189bn in 2023 to R499bn by 2020, the number of domestic tourists from 14,6-million in 2023 to 18-million by 2020, and to create 225000 new jobs by 2020.
Speaking at a conference on hotel investment, on the fringes of Indaba, Rhodes University commerce faculty professor Matthew Lester challenged tourism operators for not selling innovative packages as was done in other countries. While Prof Lester did not advocate big discounting, examples of innovative packages that stimulated tourism elsewhere included free accommodation for gamblers at some hotels in Las Vegas, US, and free "booze and food" attached to some holiday packages in Mauritius.
"Every hotel I walk into (in SA) occupancy is very low. I can tell you, in Eastern Cape, where I come from, it is carnage. Where are the packages to attract loyal customers?" Prof Lester said the biggest challenge for tourism was getting visitors to SA for the first time as it was a long-haul destination and costs were high. He said that while there were enough financial incentives from the government to attract investment for new facilities and for training, a sport and tourism-related incentive should be considered to make it cheaper to get to SA. Tourism KwaZulu-Natal CEO Ndabo Khoza said if one analysed tourism brochures in the province from 2005 and now, there was no difference, indicating a lack of innovation in designing inclusive packages of new experiences.
INDABA 2012 - May 2012 - ICC Durban South Africa