South African Tourism this week launched the ‘I Do Tourism’ (IDT) campaign at Indaba.

The initiative seeks to remind South Africans of the importance of the tourism industry and the role they can play as advocates for South Africa and for tourism.

Opening Indaba on Tuesday, President Jacob Zuma endorsed the campaign, highlighting tourism’s growing importance to the economy when other sectors are not performing as well.

The purpose of the campaign, according to SA Tourism CEO, Sisa Ntshona, is to show the economic and social value of tourism in South Africa. “Tourism has a ripple effect,” Ntshona notes. “Each direct permanent tourism job opportunity that is created can have multiple spin-offs for transport, agriculture and other sectors.”

I Do Tourism will bring this message to the attention of the South African public by reminding them of tourism’s impact on the economy. The campaign will also showcase members of the industry, and provide a space for them to share their stories.

In addition to inspiring potential domestic tourists, SA Tourism is also aiming to motivate industry members to keep up their good work, and to remind government and other stakeholders of the importance of supporting the industry.

According to SA Tourism, while tourism contributes 3% to the nation’s economy and has created around 500 000 jobs, the majority of South Africans remain unaware of how their lives are affected when international travellers decide to visit the country; or even how their own holiday may help to better the lives of other South Africans. The organisation emphasised that, for many South Africans, tourism remained inaccessible and something that was “for other people” and therefore had little bearing on their day-to-day lives.

“This is precisely the attitude we hope to change through I Do Tourism,” Ntshona explains. “We aim to remind South Africans that tourism is everyone’s business because all South Africans benefit through and from tourism. Tourism adds value to the lives of all South Africans in a range of ways. As South Africans, we all have something to gain from the growth and development of our tourism industry. That is why our involvement in rallying behind tourism is vitally important. The continued success of tourism benefits us all.”

The campaign will also seek to draw attention to the fact that the impact of tourism is not industry-specific and that tourism contributes to the growth of sectors ranging from agriculture to transport. In this way, the campaign will emphasise that tourism is integral to the growth and development of the country and it is therefore the duty of every South African to do what they can to support tourism. And that by doing so, they are contributing to the country’s economy.

“Ultimately, I Do Tourism seeks to make South Africans want to get behind tourism by seizing the economic opportunities within the tourism industry or by simply playing their part by making visitors feel welcome and providing assistance where necessary, whether that’s by giving directions or recommending a local attraction. If tourism wins, we all win,” Ntshona said.