South African Tourism unveiled its new ‘five in five’ strategy at the Satsa conference last week. The plan aims to increase by five million the number of travellers to and in South Africa over the next five years.

Margie Whitehouse, CMO of SA Tourism, said the aim would be for four million of those travellers to be internationals and the remaining one million to be from the domestic market.

“We’re in the process of organisational review to look not only at best practice of DMOs, but of international companies as well, that work in the model that we do to see how best to structure ourselves,” said Whitehouse. “We’re working very hard with Treasury to convince them that we have the best economic case.”

The total arrivals to South Africa recorded for the year ending 2015 was 8 170 882. “Four million on our current nine million; is that a stretch in target? It’s 46% growth,” said Whitehouse. She added that, as a result of the dip experienced last year, the growth targets for 2016 were “soft” but the aim was to achieve 13 million international travellers by 2021. According to Whitehouse, there are five strategic thrusts that would assist SA Tourism to achieve this growth. The first of these is the market investment framework or market portfolio. “We are in the process of understanding market dynamics right around the world in every single country.” She said this entailed looking at what the propensity was to travel to long-haul destinations, and how attractive SA was to international visitors.

Whitehouse added that there would be engagement with stakeholders through the Tourism Business Council of South Africa and Satsa to uncover how best the marketing budget could be spent. “It’s going to be a very collaborative process where we lock down those markets. We need to know where we’re going to focus our money over the next five years.”

The second strategic thrust was to market the South African brand consistently, spend the budget collectively, and look at building a more comprehensive brand positioning, where everyone was able to access the marketing material, said Whitehouse. She added that 51% of customers who were identified as potential visitors fell out of the equation as a result of safety and security. However, she said this was changing as safety concerns changed internationally.

She outlined collaboration as the third strategic thrust and said SA Tourism had not done any international trade research since 2009 and would be looking at collaborating with the trade for this reason. SA Tourism was also looking at innovative ways of spending the Tomsa levy, she said.

The fourth strategic thrust was the work to be done on policies. “A huge amount of work needs to be done on policies to make us agile to make us flexible and able to deliver to your needs.”

Whitehouse concluded by saying that being inspired through South African Tourism’s people was the final strategic thrust in the ‘five in five’ strategy.