ASATA column: It All Starts at Home

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ASATA is a member of the Tourism Business Council of South Africa (TBCSA), an association that supports the ‘business of tourism’. Business owners ranging from small micro enterprises to large corporate companies get together with one common interest – servicing the travel and tourism industry. This affiliation affords ASATA the necessary dialogue with our colleagues in the National Department of Tourism (NDOT). As a result, we enjoy the attention of the department and are included in the stakeholder forums. One of those forums that we are currently focusing on is the execution of some of those bold commitments we endorsed in the National Tourism Sector Strategy (NTSS) document of 2011.

Tourism growth and the impact it has on the economy is undoubtedly a key theme that dominates the strategy, and included in that is how to increase domestic tourism’s contribution to the tourism economy. Research has shown that in those countries where tourism is a large contributor to the GDP, domestic tourism tends to be the main sustainability factor. But, how do you instill a culture of tourism among South Africans who traditionally have taken leave but never a holiday?

In my opinion, we should treat the country as if it were privately owned. If that were the case, a targeted strategy would be approved for each product (province), with their target market clearly defined and an approved brand message that was easy to understand.  Competitions, testaments, and other innovative ideas would run continuously over the year and would support the plan. Appropriate messages would be vocalized through strategic media initiatives, and third-party operators would be mobilizing their resources to facilitate the delivery of this product. The supply chain would grow and competition would be healthy.  

Necessary measures would be identified to manage its success and a budget would be approved to execute its roll-out. Is this too simple an approach, or should we continue with the mixed messages of the provinces competing with each other, diluting the message and ignoring the market on our doorstep?

 

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