For the new South Africa’s Minister of Tourism, her country’s tourism and that of the continent can only experience a good turnaround if stakeholders, especially those responsible for enacting policies go beyond merely talking plans to implementing them. No new plans are necessary, as there is a backlog of many that have still not been acted on, according to Patricia de Lille.
Speaking at the opening of this year’s Africa’s Travel Indaba (ATI2023) in Durban, the Minister maintained that actions, not mere words are what is needed to keep Africa on the minds of travellers as a destination of choice.
“Ladies and gentlemen through concrete actions, not just words, we are here as Africans, at Africa’s Travel Indaba to work to reposition ourselves in the minds of international travellers. Our top-notch hospitality, favourable weather, and unique wildlife are just a few examples of what makes Africa an attractive tourism destination.
“We are also here to recognise the value of visitors travelling to different parts of Africa and the world. We know that through tourism, we can help create cultural exchanges, promote understanding, and break down stereotypes. This can help to build bridges between different communities and contribute to the peaceful coexistence of different cultures and religions,” she said.
To achieve this, there should be healthy competition and collaboration between and among countries on the continent.
“Competition is often considered the lifeblood of destination marketing and tourism. However, it is important to note that competition should always be balanced with collaboration.
While healthy competition can drive growth and innovation, unhealthy competition can lead to a race to the bottom, with businesses and destinations undercutting each other on price and quality.
Therefore, as the tourism industry, let us foster a culture of healthy competition, where businesses and destinations are encouraged to compete on quality and innovation.
Let us remember that long-term success in the industry depends not only on competing but also on recognising the value of collaboration and partnerships,” De Lille emphasized.
To add to this, the Minister called for harmonisation of visa regimes and an increase in airlift capacity.
She reiterated: In addition to collaboration across the value chain, there are other areas where we need to work together to unlock the full potential of the African tourism sector.
One of these is the visa regime in all African countries. We must have a harmonised visa regime across the continent to make it easier for visitors to move from one country to another.
We must also simplify the e-visa application process and reduce visa costs to make Africa a more attractive destination for both Africans and international travellers. Another critical area is airlifting capacity.
The opening day featured a colourful and spectacular display of dance and music and attracted a large audience comprising, KZN provincial and national government officials, South African Tourism officers, exhibitors, buyers and the media among others.
ATI2023 is expected to attract over 6000 attendees and there are more than 350 tourism products being showcased, 1000 buyers from across the tourism ecosystem and over 1000 exhibitors.
The attendees include destination marketing bodies, hotel groups, airlines, tour operators, and 10 African Tourism Boards and 21 African countries.