South African tourism sector pushing into full gear

As the world gradually relaxes travel restrictions and lifts travel bans brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic, the global tourism industry is gearing up for recovery. Equally, following the country’s revised lockdown regulations, the South African tourism sector is embarking on an ambitious plan to revitalise the industry.  

South African Tourism (SA Tourism), together with the wider tourism industry, gathered in Cape Town for the Global Advocacy Programme Stakeholder Forum, to put into action a plan to drive the sector’s recovery. The Global Advocacy Programme, an initiative started by South African Tourism, is about partnering and collaboration of strategic partners in removing barriers and creating a positive narrative about South Africa. 

“We got together to get our Tourism Sector Recovery Plan into action. The single biggest thing that needs to be done is to pull the tourism sector together. Action is paramount –  not talk. We need to address the barrier issues that prevent domestic tourists from exploring their own country and of course those that discourage international tourists from choosing South Africa. For example, we know from our insights that ALL tourists (domestic and international) are looking for a welcoming and safe tourism experience,” said South African Tourism’s Acting Chief Executive Officer, Themba Khumalo.

The Tourism Sector Recovery Plan is a blueprint for the sector’s recovery which was formally approved by cabinet on 21 April 2021.

SA Tourism Interim Board Chairperson Advocate Mojanku Gumbi highlighted the importance of domestic tourism saying: “In order to grow domestic tourism, we must have affordable and easily accessible tourism products and experiences. We also have to understand our country – with all its challenges. Security issues, for example, are directly linked to socio-economic challenges. So the solution is not a tourism solution, or even a policing solution but a developmental challenge.”

Tshifhiwa Tshivhengwa, Chief Executive Officer of the Tourism Business Council of South Africa said: “This forum sends the message that South Africa is open for business. Every country around the world is going to be competing for the same tourists. We need to be more aggressive. For far too many years we’ve talked about things, let’s give action to that.”

He added that over the last two years 470,0000 jobs have been lost within the tourism sector. 

The Global Advocacy Programme Stakeholder Forum will next convene at the beginning of May as a precursor to Africa’s Travel Indaba which will take place from the 2nd to the 5th of May in Durban, after a two-year absence.

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