The Southern Africa Tourism Services Association (SATSA) conference concluded on a triumphant note on Sunday as the Minister for Tourism, Patricia de Lille, made a series of exciting announcements.
SOUTHERN AFRICA TOURISM SERVICES ASSOCIATION CONFERENCE CONCLUDES WITH BOLD ANNOUNCEMENTS
During her speech on Day Two of the conference, Minister de Lille unveiled her immediate priorities, which include finalising the long-awaited Tourism Master Plan within the next two months and revamping the Tourism Equity Fund.
She emphasised the urgent need to transform the Tourism Sector Recovery Plan, adopted by the cabinet in 2021, into a comprehensive Tourism Sector Master Plan.
“The recovery plan will form the basis of the master plan. I want input from everyone on this master plan or its draft. By the end of May, I expect the first draft to be ready for gazetting, with the final plan concluded before the end of June”.
The Minister said there was an urgent need for a more coordinated destination marketing strategy, one that would drive South Africa’s tourism to unprecedented heights, even surpassing pre-pandemic levels.
In addition to this, Minister de Lille said there is a plan to roll out the Tourism Equity Fund, but this would entail first redesigning the fund’s criteria to align with existing laws and the country’s constitution.
Launched in 2021, the Fund was interdicted in court on the basis of not being non-compliant with some of the country’s laws.
“I have already intervened by settling the court case, finalised on 26 April 2023. I am now working on the concept and criteria for applications to the Tourism Equity Fund and will keep the industry informed on any updates,” she assured the attendees.
Other priorities for the Minister, she added, include improving e-Visa turnaround time for tourists. To this effect she is working closely with her Home Affairs counterpart, Minister Aaron Motsoaledi, to expedite the application and approval processes.
Focusing on the issue of Tourism Monitors, Minister de Lille emphasised the importance of providing adequate training. She said that over the past two years, 1,846 tourism monitors had been recruited.
Tourism Monitors are recruited and trained to help with enhancing the experiences of visitors and also to promote the safety of tourists at certain sites where they are deployed.
Minister de Lille said there with the help of the private sector, the numbers could increase but said there needs to be a discussion on where the Monitors are deployed.
Held at the Inkosi Albert Luthuli International Convention Centre in Durban, the conference was a gathering of industry players and experts who deliberated on a number of issues affecting the sector.
Various other matters were discussed at the conference, with one of the big discussions being the issue of Tourism Safety and Security.
During a discussion on the matter, speakers emphasised the importance of a collaborative strategy to tackle safety and security challenges in the tourism sector. Michael Tollman, the CEO of Cullinan Holdings, underscored the value of unified efforts, drawing parallels with the cooperative response to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Andre du Toit, SATSA Safety & Security Committee Chair, shed light on ongoing initiatives aimed at bolstering tourist safety measures. A standout development is a launch of “Secura Traveller,” a new mobile app designed to provide peace of mind to travellers by offering vital safety information and resources. Connected to a network of armed and medical response services, the app boasts an average response time of six minutes in metropolitan areas.
The industry’s response to security challenges focuses on three key pillars: preparedness, response, and aftercare. Tshifiwa Tshivhengwa highlighted the necessity of enhancing security at tourist attractions without militarising them. Conference participants unanimously agreed that a coordinated approach is the only viable solution to address the challenge effectively.
During the conference, the Tourism Business Council of South Africa (TBCSA) and South African Tourism unveiled their collaborative initiative, consisting of structured engagements aimed at invigorating the tourism sector. This collaboration will lead to the establishment of dedicated workstreams focusing on specific markets and aspects of tourism and destination marketing.
Nomasonto Ndlovu, the acting CEO of South African Tourism, elaborated on the workstreams, stating, “These workstreams will be composed of a select group of individuals who will gather to discuss strategies for enhancing market arrivals and increasing visitor spending. We need insights from those who are directly involved and actively transacting on the ground.”
Tshifhiwa Tshivhengwa, CEO of the Tourism Business Council of South Africa, emphasized the urgency of these structured engagements, which aim to generate ideas leading to the growth of the tourism sector. He said, “We must be mindful that time is of the essence. Our country demands that we do more. The work we undertake is not merely for our own benefit.”
This innovative approach seeks to foster a dynamic exchange of ideas and a sense of urgency in tackling the challenges and opportunities facing South Africa’s tourism industry.