THE RECENT outrage levelled against Minister of Tourism Derek Hanekom and his department over the new visa regulations has conveniently shifted the focus away from a critical issue facing our country – the failure by the government to promote and expand domestic tourism in South Africa and hit its own targets.
Domestic tourism figures across South Africa are on the decline as South Africans simply cannot afford to travel within their own borders. South African Tourism’s Annual Report for the 2013/14 financial year shows that one of the department’s strategic objectives was to increase the number of domestic travellers to 15 million.
Its actual achievement was only 12 million domestic travellers over this period, which was 20 percent below target and a drop of 500 000 domestic travellers when compared with the 2012/13 season.
Domestic tourism in South Africa is shrinking. When the international trend is tourism growth, why are our citizens doing less travel?
The Department of Tourism is clearly aware of the main reason behind this decline. Its Domestic Tourism Growth Strategy 2012-2020 states that the biggest inhibiting factor to domestic tourism is the perception that travel is not affordable.
Tourism and travel for South Africans are just too expensive. For example, a family of four would end up paying R920 for a trip to Robben Island. Robben Island has announced that it will be increasing its ticket prices.
What an insult
This is reprehensible. A critical piece of our people’s history will cost a South African citizen almost R1 000 to visit as a family. This will put it out of reach for many average South African families. Where is the national pride in that? What an insult to our reconciliation as a nation.
In order to maximise the gains arising from entry fees to various government-owned facilities and not restrict their local population from experiencing and connecting with its own heritage, many countries have introduced a dual pricing system. Dual pricing, whereby foreign visitors are asked to pay different fees than domestic visitors, means that South Africans, whose tax money already funds these attractions, get major discounts to visit them. Now that sounds attractive.
While implementing a two-tier pricing system might be difficult, certain attractions such as Table Mountain already make it possible for locals to visit for free, simply by presenting their South African ID on the day of their birthday. Another example is the Kruger National Park with its dual pricing system for South Africans and foreign visitors.
Therefore these models already exist in South Africa. We need more of these models throughout the entire country to boost tourism in untapped rural areas.
Price attractions for high-volume, not for low-volume will follow, leading to the surrounding economy thriving. It is without doubt that tourism can be used as an effective tool to create jobs, provide opportunities for small businesses, promote livelihoods for communities and bring South Africans together.
The solution is the introduction of a campaign titled, “Experience My South Africa”, which will focus specifically on encouraging South Africans to get out and explore our country, while addressing affordability issues and limited geographic spread.
This initiative would allow for all South Africans to gain free or discounted entry to government-owned national parks, forests, reserves, museums and the like, on non-religious public holidays in the country.
It is our belief that this “Experience My South Africa” campaign will help to stimulate domestic tourism growth and open up South Africa to be experienced by our locals. This in turn should also help to stimulate job creation and economic growth within surrounding communities.
Currently, there are a number of examples of poorly developed and maintained government-funded tourist attractions that remain sorely underused. In response to my parliamentary question, I was informed that an audit has been conducted, which identified approximately 700 resorts that are being underutilised.
Again, the solution is to establish partnerships with the private sector to convert these resorts into affordable “budget” holiday destinations, which if implemented, would go a long way in boosting domestic tourism figures. We need real measures to ensure that tourism is made affordable. If we get this right, more employment opportunities and more emerging small businesses will be created.
I will submit my proposals to Parliament’s tourism portfolio committee for inclusion in the Tourism Sector Strategy and Departmental strategic objectives.
Tourism has proved that it is a labour intensive sector and continues to create a substantial number of direct and indirect jobs. In 2013 the tourism sector created 144 000 jobs, which is equivalent to 12 percent of all jobs created in South Africa.
The National Development Plan recognises tourism as one of the main drivers of the country’s economy and employment. The plan envisages the promotion of South Africa as a major tourist destination, with unique features, to boost tourist numbers and enable tourism to contribute to sustainable economic growth and poverty reduction. The job creation index indicates that the tourism industry is responsible for 1 in every 25 jobs in South Africa, while one job is created for every 12 tourist arrivals.
Domestic tourism can specifically be used as an effective tool to break down barriers in South Africa and open up this country to be explored by a large portion of the population who are currently excluded from enjoying this experience.
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Lilongwe — The South African Airways (SAA) in association with Malawi Department of Tourism have reduced flight charges from London to Malawi to £604 return ticket about K422,800, saving up to £149 about K104,300.
The year round discount fares include, return flights to Malawi’s Lilongwe International airport (LLW), return flight to Chileka International Airport (BLZ) at £624 about K436, 800 saving up to £129 about K90, 300.
According to the press release made available to Malawi News Agency (Mana), by public relations manager Jean Paul Zapata, travelers can purchase the discounted fares for travel up to 13th July 2015, 19th August-12th December, 25th December 2015-31st March 2016.
The statement reads that SAA, the African’s most awarded airline, operates double daily flights from Heathrow to Johannesburg and beyond to over 30 destinations in Southern Africa.
“In its domestic market SAA has an extensive schedule operating 556 flights in total per week between Johannesburg – Cape Town, Durban, East London and Port Elizabeth, from its Johannesburg hub, as well as code-shared flights between Lanseria – Cape Town and Durban,” reads part of the statement.
Zapata in the statement said that SAA offers more frequencies than any other airline in South Africa, regionally it offers 24 destinations across the African continent including Abidjan, Accra, Blantyre, Brazzaville, Cotonou, Dakar, Dar es Salaam, Douala, Entebbe, Harare, Kinshasa, Lagos, Libreville, Lilongwe, Livingstone, Luanda, Lusaka, Maputo, Mauritius, Nairobi, Ndola, Pointe Noire, Victoria Falls and Windhoek.
He said SAA’s operates to 40 destinations worldwide via an international network that creates links to all major continents from South Africa through 11 direct routes and code shares, with daily flights from Johannesburg to London (Heathrow), Frankfurt, Munich, Mumbai, Perth, Hong Kong, Beijing, New York, Washington, Sao Paulo and Buenos Aires.
“SAA has codes share agreements with 27 other airlines across the markets it serves; the airline has extended its code share agreement with Mango, its low cost operator, to also include coastal cities in South Africa,” reads part of the statement.
Zapata said SAA’s core business is the provision of passenger airlines and cargo transport services together with related services, which are provided through SAA and its four wholly owned subsidiaries: SAA Technical; Mango its low cost carrier; Air chefs, the catering entity of SAA and South African Travel Centre (SATC).
SAA is a Star Alliance member, which offers more than 21, 900 daily flights to 1, 328 airports in 195 countries and is a winner of the ‘Best Airlines in Africa’ Ward in the regional category for eleven consecutive years.
Mango and SAA hold the number one and number two successive spots as South Africa’s most on-time airlines.
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The competition for the 2015 World Responsible Tourism Awards at WTM has started in earnest as the longlist of organizations vying for the top spot at WTM in London this November is announced.
The 206 tourism businesses, organisations and initiatives come from a record 69 countries worldwide and with the inclusion of the International Association of Antarctica Tour Operators in the longlist this year, 2015 is the first year the World Responsible Tourism Awards at WTM Longlist encompasses every continent on the planet.
Among the list are the winners of the recent Irish Responsible Tourism Awards and African Responsible Tourism Awards at WTM Africa,
the first two regional schemes in the World Responsible Tourism Awards at WTM family. Having already impressed the judges at a regional level with a range of inspirational, leading efforts in responsible tourism, these organisations are now going forward to compete on the world stage.
Justin Francis, Awards founder and managing director of organisers Responsible Travel comments: “The incredible variety of organisations which have made it through to the longlist this year demonstrates just how widely recognised and important responsible tourism is becoming around the world.
“We’re looking at everything from individual hotels and tiny local organisations to tourism giants such as TUI and Virgin Atlantic.
“Each and every one of these organisations is playing an important role in championing responsible tourism – the submission forms have given us an exciting taste of what they are doing and we’re looking forward to discovering more about their unique and inspirational stories”.
World Travel Market, Senior Director, Simon Press says: “The World Responsible Tourism Awards are a central pillar to World Responsible Tourism Day, the largest day of responsible tourism action around the globe.
“The awards act as an inspiration to the industry demonstrating what can be achieved with a focus on responsible tourism. The variety of companies, both big and small and from all around the world, on the 2015 long list demonstrates the industry’s commitment to protecting the environments it promotes.”
The longlisted organisations will now be put through their paces with the Awards customary rigourous questioning, which will then be shared with the judging team. Chair of Judges, Professor Harold Goodwin says “We have had an extraordinarily strong response to the Awards this year, both in terms of numbers and quality of submissions.
“This is now the longlisted organisations’ opportunity to really demonstrate to us in detail what they are achieving in responsible tourism.
“Not all of the organisations below will make the cut and when it meets in July, the judging team will be looking for only the most innovative and inspirational examples of responsible tourism in practice to put forward as the 2015 shortlist”.
The independent judging team will debate and make their own decision as to the winners, based on the evidence and information provided to them. Any support or otherwise for the longlisted organisations can be sent to firstname.lastname@example.org.
The World Responsible Tourism Awards at WTM shortlist will be announced in July 2015, with the winners announced in a ceremony on 4th November 2015 on World Responsible Tourism Day at WTM in London, part of the world’s largest event for responsible tourism action.
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South Africa has been ranked first in Sub-Saharan Africa on the biennial World Economic Forum Travel’s global Travel and Tourism Competitiveness Index (TTCI) 2015 released in Geneva, Switzerland on Wednesday.
Snatching the zenith from Seychelles in the Sub-Saharan Africa category, South Africa was ranked at number 48 globally, while the archipelago of islands was second in the region and followed at a somewhat distant 54 on the world stage.
Seychelles topped the regional rankings in the 2013 report and was at 38 globally, when South Africa held positions 3 and 64.
Mauritius was placed third in the region this year, followed by Namibia, Kenya, Cape Verde, Botswana, Tanzania, Rwanda and Zambia respectively as the Sub-Saharan top ten of 2015.
On the global front, Spain was ranked at the apex, followed by France and then Germany.
Other traditional travel and tourism destinations – the United States, the United Kingdom, Switzerland, Australia, Italy, Japan and Canada – made up the rest of the global top ten.
Compared with other Brics countries, South Africa (at 48 globally) was rated better only than New Delhi. Brazil was ranked 28, Russia 45, India 52 and China was at an enviable 17 on the global front.
“The diversity in the top 30 shows that a country does not have to be wealthy to have a flourishing tourism sector,” said Roberto Crotti, an Economist at the World Economic Forum. “But many countries should still do more to tackle travel and tourism challenges, including visa policies, better promotion of cultural heritage, environmental protection and ICT readiness. This, in turn, would drive economic growth and the creation of jobs.”
The report contains detailed country profiles, benchmarking for the 141 economies featured in the study. It includes a comprehensive summary of their overall positions in the index and a guide to the most prominent travel and tourism advantages and disadvantages of each. Also included is an extensive selection of tables that cover each indicator used in the index’s computation.
The report’s executive summary states that many countries in the Sub-Saharan region “are working on their openness and visa policies, though the longstanding challenges of infrastructure and health and hygiene standards need to be tackled to unleash the potential of the T&T (travel and tourism) sector as a catalyst for development”.
Published under the theme “Growing through Shocks”, the full edition of the 2015 report features three additional chapters authored by leading experts and practitioners in the hospitality and tourism sector.
Among other key findings, the 2015 edition shows that the tourism and travel industry continues to grow more quickly than the global economy as a whole. As proof of its resilience, the analysis shows that the sector’s growth – whether in terms of global air passenger traffic, occupancy rates or international arrivals – tends to return to trend quickly after a shock.
The report ranks the 141 countries across 14 separate dimensions, revealing how well countries could deliver sustainable economic and societal benefits through their travel and tourism sector. Spain’s leadership position is attributed to a world class ranking in cultural resources (number 1 globally); its ability to support online searches for entertainment (4th), a measure of how well the country has adapted to consumption habits brought on by the digital revolution; as well as excellent infrastructure (4th).
The World Economic Forum produced the report in collaboration with Strategy & Bloom consulting, Deloitte, the International Air Transport Association (IATA), the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN), the United Nations World Tourism Organisation and the World Travel & Tourism Council.
The comprehensive report can be viewed online.
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Ten local tourism entrepreneurs were able to market their products and services at the City of Cape Town’s stand during the World Travel Market (WTM) Africa, giving them the opportunity to rub shoulders with some of the world’s top travel and tourism industry buyers. The WTM Africa is a part of Africa Travel Week which took place at the Cape Town International Convention Centre from 13 – 17 April 2015.
The 10 entrepreneurs were chosen according to set criteria and were able to engage with international buyers and trade visitors at the City of Cape Town stand in the exhibition area. Among others, they had to be Cape Town-based, have been in operations for five years but not more than 10 years, and had to motivate why they believed their business should be showcased at the event.
‘The exposure for these local tourism businesses was invaluable. WTM Africa afforded them the opportunity to meet potential distributors and buyers, test market interest, evaluate the competition, identify strategic partners and position themselves globally. Our small, medium and micro enterprises (SMMEs) gained access to registered buyers; these are potential customers who are key decision-makers in the travel industry,’ said the City’s Acting Mayoral Committee Member for Tourism, Events and Economic Development, Councillor Xanthea Limberg.
The local tourism enterprises selected to be represented at WTM Africa were:
- Nonkululeko Charters
- Daddy’s World (accommodation)
- 33 South Backpacker
- Khayelitsha Travel
- Stobers Shuttle and Tours
- Sesfikile Wines
- Kingdom Tours & Transfers
- Mzansi Restaurant
- Enchanted Guest House
- Bikes and Wine (tour guides)
‘Through Africa Travel Week, our local tourism SMMEs were able to establish relationships with tourism industry experts from across Africa and the world. The tourism industry is one of the most lucrative sectors, creating 37 500 full-time and 15 100 part-time jobs. We need to ensure that these jobs are sustained and facilitate the creation of further jobs in the sector by making these opportunities available to our entrepreneurs. By increasing international trade, SMMEs are able to become sustainable and effectively contribute to the local economy,’ said Councillor Limberg.
Africa Travel Week is the continent’s largest international travel industry event. The show attracts approximately 500 international tourism industry buyers, 4 500 trade visitors, 220 members of the media and 1 700 exhibiting personnel from across Africa and the world. This year’s event comprised of the 11th International Conference on Responsible Tourism in Destinations and three co-located World Travel Market shows, i.e. World Travel Market (WTM) Africa, the International Luxury Travel Market Africa (ILTMA), and the Incentives, Business Travel and Meetings Africa (IBTMA) events.
Source: Responsible Cape Town
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According to the Earth Day Network, 2015 will be the 45th anniversary of Earth Day and could be the most exciting year in environmental history.
This could be the year in which economic growth and sustainability join hands; the year in which world leaders finally pass a binding climate change treaty; the year in which citizens and organisations divest from fossil fuels and put their money into renewable energy solutions.
In celebrating Earth Day, a local green cleaning product manufacturer is encouraging the hospitality industry to adopt sustainable practices to safeguard the environment, its guests and its employees. “The extent of the damage that chemical products have on the environment, on the health of those that use it and on the people that are exposed to it cannot be overstated,” says Clinton Smith of Green Worx Cleaning Solutions.
Although a recent study indicated that consumers avoid utilising green cleaning products due to the perception that they are more costly than traditional products, the reality is that enzyme based products are more concentrated, are more efficient, and are therefore more cost effective. The enzymes digest host material where the germ and odour causing bacteria live and reproduce.
When ensuring that their facilities are sufficiently sanitised, accommodation providers should focus on utilising safe, non-toxic products that are effective and reliable. Where facility management services are utilised, industry leaders should exert pressure on these organisations to implement green practices. “If each industry takes responsibility for the effects that its actions have on the environment, true change can be effected,” concludes Smith.
Kirstenbosch National Botanical Garden was the venue for a meeting between international tourism diplomats and Tourism Minister Derek Hanekom yesterday.
To celebrate the fact the garden had had one million visitors, Hanekom invited Taleb Rifai, secretary-general of the World Tourism Organisation and David Scowsill, chief executive of the World Travel and Tourism Council, to enjoy the delights of the garden and take a walk along the Tree Canopy Way, better known as the Boomslang because of how the walkway winds through the treetops like a snake.
The delegates stopped to take photos of the mountain and the canopy below them.
The group ended the tour at the Moyo restaurant where they were welcomed by traditional singing and dance.
And then they got down to some serious discussions.
Hanekom said the milestone achieved by Kirstenbosch was a tribute to the hard work and vision of the South African National Biodiversity Institute.
“South Africa’s botanical gardens provided a window on South Africa’s rich natural heritage, exposing visitors to the country’s biodiversity.”
Rifai, who is visiting the country for the first time, said he felt privileged to be here.
“It is not often that we get quality time in a place; we are always being moved from one airport to another.”
Although the country had a lot to offer, it needed some repackaging.
“South Africa can, with out a doubt, celebrate diversity. But you need to engage more with international people. The world needs South Africa and you have a lot to offer.”
Rifai said the local tourism industry was missing out on a “great market” which could help boost the economy.
“The visa system is prohibiting many from coming to South Africa. It takes a lot of time and money to travel from one council office to another. For example, for Chinese people to get a visa to come to South Africa they need to travel to Beijing to get their documents, and often they have to return to the consular offices more than once.”
The secretary-general’s opinion was echoed by Scowsill.
Scowsill compared the country’s visa regulations to those in the US post 9/11.
“After 9/11, America was very strict on whom they allowed into their country, but three years ago they realised that this was impacting negatively on their tourism growth.
“They introduced an electronic and biometric system whereby you can apply online for your visa and all your information will be added on to the biometric machines so that you just used your fingerprints for identification and approval.”
Another issue raised was the need for an easy and affordable transport system for young travellers and backpackers.
Rifai said about 1.1 billion tourists travelled each year and a third of those were under the age of 29. Cape Town and its surrounds attracted many young visitors, but places were not always easy to visit.
“Young people come for week-long visits… if they want to go outside the city to understand the real South Africa they need a transport system that will make it easier. It doesn’t have to be sophisticated.”
Hanekom accepted the suggestions raised by his guest.
“The advice is very useful.”
He said his ministry planned to carefully examine the visa applications, and tourism requirements were being reviewed.
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WTM Africa 2015, the leading business-to-business tourism event in Africa, has added an array of new International exhibitors, including destination hot-spot Abu Dhabi and a number of major players from the hotel, travel technology, cruise and airline sectors.
The new exhibitors at WTM Africa 2015 – which will take place at the Cape Town International Convention Centre from April 15th-17th – signed up following glowing publicity and positive feedback that resulted from the hugely successful inaugural WTM Africa last year.
The Abu Dhabi Tourism and Culture Authority is the latest destination to sign up to WTM Africa 2015, while, from the global accommodation sector, International Hotel Group, Best Western and Hotel Verde are new exhibitors.
Mubarak Al Nuaimi, director, destination promotion department, TCA Abu Dhabi, said: “We followed with interest the success of the inaugural WTM Africa exhibition in 2014 and we are excited to be exhibiting this year at what has already established itself as a major trade must-attend event on the continent.
“Our delegation of leading hotels, tour operators and national airline Etihad Airways will showcase the very best of Abu Dhabi’s tourism opportunities while also highlighting the culture and heritage of the emirate.
“Airlift to Abu Dhabi will substantially increase from March when South African Airways begin flights direct to the UAE capital, joining Etihad Airways’ seven flights a week to Abu Dhabi, and this is an ideal opportunity for us to increase our inbound visitors from the African continent.”
From the airline sector, fastjet, the low-cost pan-Africa airline – part owned by easyJet – will be highlighting new opportunities following its newly launched routes to South Africa, Zambia and Zimbabwe from its Dar es Salaam base.
From the world of cruising, Pullmantur Cruises is aiming to raise awareness of its fleet of five ships and its wide selection of destinations.
The company has long served the Spanish market, but is now keen to establish itself as an international brand.
Finally, two new travel technology companies will be exhibiting for the first time this year: booking system provider Traveltek and All In Travel, which provides travel agents with an online reservation system that integrates hotels’ inventory and direct contracted products.
This year’s event has been expanded by an extra day to become a three-day event and the exhibition floor space will be 50 per cent bigger.
WTM Africa 2014 facilitated an impressive $314 million in industry deals.
WTM Africa, Thebe Reed Exhibitions, managing director, Carol Weaving said: “We’re excited to welcome more of the world’s key tourism players to WTM Africa 2015.
“It’s great to see such a wide range of new exhibitors from such different International tourism businesses, and it’s a result of the buzz WTM Africa created during its inaugural event last year.”
Source: Breaking Travel News
Image: WTM Responsible Tourism
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Three amazing South African eco-lodges are on National Geographic‘s elite collection of properties that makes up its first-ever travel portfolio.
Grootbos Private Nature Reserve, situated just inland from Gansbaai, and Sabi Sabi’s Earth Lodge near the Kruger National Park and Tswalu Kalahari with the closest town being Upington, are all part of the collection made up of 24 properties on six continents.
“We share and appreciate the values and high quality standards of National Geographic,” said Michael Lutzeyer, part-owner and founder of Grootbos Private Nature Reserve.
Two more African countries are featured. Tanzania has two lodges on the list, while Morroco made it on to the list with one lodge.
Selected through a rigorous evaluation process, each lodge offers an outstanding guest experience while supporting the protection of cultural and natural heritage and embracing sustainable tourism practices.
The initial collection serves as the starting point for National Geographic’s travel portfolio, which includes National Geographic Expeditions, Traveler magazine, travel books, photography courses and the @NatGeoTravel digital and photography community.
National Geographic deployed experts to each site to evaluate operations, meet staff at all levels, scrutinise the lodge’s impact on the local environment and community.
“By creating this carefully curated group of hotels, lodges and retreats that meet internationally recognised sustainable tourism criteria while providing top-notch guest experiences, National Geographic opens a new chapter in the power of travel to protect our planet,” said Costas Christ, a world-renowned sustainable tourism expert and editor at large for National Geographic Traveler magazine, who coordinated an international team to inspect each of the lodges.
“Travellers can feel confident when they stay in one of these lodges that they are helping to safeguard cultural and natural treasures in some of the world’s most incredible places.”
National Geographic Unique Lodges of the World charter members are:
Fogo Island Inn, Canada
Grootbos Private Nature Reserve, South Africa
Inkaterra Machu Picchu Pueblo Hotel, Peru
Kapari Natural Resort, Greece
Kasbah du Toubkal, Morocco
Lapa Rios Eco Lodge, Costa Rica
Lizard Island, Australia
Longitude 131°, Australia
Mashpi Lodge, Ecuador
Nimmo Bay Wilderness Resort, Canada
Pacuare Lodge, Costa Rica
Rosalie Bay Resort, Dominica
Rubondo Island Camp, Tanzania
Sabi Sabi Earth Lodge, South Africa
Sayari Camp, Tanzania
Southern Ocean Lodge, Australia
Sukau Rainforest Lodge, Malaysian Borneo
The Brando, French Polynesia
The Ranch at Rock Creek, Montana, United States
Three Camel Lodge, Mongolia
Tierra Atacama Hotel & Spa, Chile
Tierra Patagonia Hotel & Spa, Chile
Tswalu Kalahari, South Africa
Zhiwa Ling Hotel, Bhutan