Unlocking the Treasure of Domestic Tourism: A Call to Action for Local Municipalities

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Embracing the ‘Shot Left’ Philosophy for Sustainable Growth

The Heartbeat of Domestic Tourism
As South Africans, we are custodians of a land rich in diversity, culture, and natural beauty. Our country’s tourism sector, a vital artery of our economy and a mirror of our national identity, thrives not just on international visitors but significantly on domestic tourists. In 2023, year-to-date, domestic tourism has more than surpassed pre-Covid levels, demonstrating its resilience. Having worked in this industry for nearly two decades, I am deeply invested in South African tourism. I believe it’s crucial to understand and amplify the value of domestic tourism. It is important for all South Africans to embrace tourism, understand their role in growing it, and recognize tourism’s contribution to the economy.

As the festive season arrives, it brings with it the promise of summer: fun times and happiness. Yet not everyone has the means to travel. This holiday season, we remind our citizens that joy can be found right where they are. South Africa’s beauty lies in its accessible picnic parks, public swimming pools, nature reserves, and dams – some free, others at minimal cost.

Domestic Tourism: More Than Just Travel
Domestic tourism is not just about leisure travel; it’s an economic growth catalyst, a creator of jobs, and a hub of economic activity. But most importantly, it’s an exploration of self and nation, an opportunity to connect with our heritage and environment, and to know our country beyond our birth province.
Apartheid robbed many South Africans of the chance to truly know their land. Some have never travelled outside their birthplace; some even pass away without exploring other parts of the country. The ‘Shot Left’ initiative, a national domestic tourism campaign by South African Tourism, plays a pivotal role here. It’s a call to action, encouraging locals to explore their country.

The Role of Local Municipalities in Tourism
Local municipalities are crucial in shaping the tourism experience. Their policies, management, and initiatives directly impact domestic tourism’s success. The maintenance of our beaches and public spaces is not just about aesthetics; it reflects our respect for our environment and commitment to tourism. Safety, cleanliness, and sustainable practices are non-negotiable aspects that municipalities must uphold.

The financial aspect of tourism, particularly service pricing, plays a crucial role. Overpricing can deter domestic travel. We need collaboration to ensure fair pricing, making travel accessible to more South Africans.

The Future of Domestic Tourism
Innovative, sustainable practices, and inclusive policies are the future of domestic tourism. Digital integration, sustainable practices to preserve natural resources, and policies catering to all South Africans are essential. This includes facilities for the differently abled and affordability for lower-income groups.

A United Effort for a Flourishing Sector
The success of domestic tourism is a collective effort. As we encourage South Africans to ‘take a Shot Left’ this summer, local municipalities must rise to the occasion. Their role in enhancing tourism infrastructure, ensuring safety and cleanliness, and fostering sustainable practices is pivotal.

Domestic tourism is not just about travel; it’s about building a nation, one journey at a time. Let’s work together to showcase the true spirit of South Africa, making it not only a destination on the world map but a cherished experience in every South African’s heart.

By: Nomasonto Ndlovu, COO at SA Tourism

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