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SATSA urges collective action
By David Frost, Southern Africa Tourism Services Association CEO
These include: the potential benefits of adventure tourism;
compliance around animal interactions and using that as a
positive marketing tool; and dealing decisively with safety and
Adventure tourism is one of our underrated hidden gems.
The percentage of 2016 arrivals from our key source markets in
Europe and North America between 18 and 34 average at 39 percent, the generation keenest on bungee jumping, sky-diving and
hot air ballooning. We need to unlock the immense offering we
have and position South Africa as a sought after adventure destination, as opposed to tourists coming for a leisure holiday and
happening to include some adventure activities. The great thing
about adventure tourism is that most of it happens outside of
bigger cities. It is rural, immersive; and it is job creation.
We also need to raise the profile of the importance of tourism
in the economy. The good news is that we have a minister who
listens and a great crowd at South African Tourism. The private
sector relationship with SAT needs to be taken to a level where
private sector input is sought at the inception of market strategy development.
The SATSA conference takes place in Port Elizabeth from
July 23 – 25, and the theme is ‘Transforming Geographical
Spread’. The association urges input on any suggested panel
discussion topics and speakers so that we can continue being
proactive in the interests of our industry.
THE LAST two years have been phenomenal for inbound tourism, with overseas arrivals growing 18 percent in 2016 alone.
Have we done anything differently, that we can directly link to
that growth? The answer is no. We still have obstacles that are
self-inflicted, for example unabridged birth certificates, visa
regulations, and vehicle licensing.
In 2017, overseas arrivals slowed to seven percent. Even more
concerning is when we segment the growth by quarter, the
seven percent growth has all occurred in the first six months.
The second half of the year shows growth of 4.5 percent and key
markets like the UK are now experiencing negative growth.
Added to these are ongoing issues around rate-related challenges with SANParks and Ezemvelo Wildlife. The one percent
increase in VAT has brought its own issues, [such as] how this
extra cost is absorbed through the traditional channel. Added
to these, the water crisis, listeria, and the land issue have given
rise to perception issues. The danger is that collectively these
issues may result in South Africa being seen as a destination
that is difficult to do business with. Operators in key outbound
markets may even shift their resources to competitor destinations.
It is then incumbent on us as the tourism collective – both
the private and public sector – to get back onto a competitive
footing. This entails dealing decisively with the ‘own goals’ and
taking advantage of key opportunities that remain untapped.
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