Tourism Levy South Africa (TOMSA) is to provide R10m (€672 500) in funding for the #WaterWiseTourism global PR campaign.

The additional funding is made possible through the TOMSA Collaborative Fund, a recent innovation of the TOMSA-Tourism Business Council of South Africa (TBCSA) collaboration with South African Tourism (SAT), which was initially conceptualised in 2016 ‘following broad industry input on the need to explore creative ways to generate value for the trade in response to their levy contributions; and ultimately to benefit the destination’.

The levy charged is that paid by the consumer for the use of tourism services, including travel agencies, tour packages, accommodation and car rental. The collection of funds from participating levy contributors is managed by the TBCSA, with the bulk being transferred to SAT on a quarterly basis to complement its destination marketing and promotion budget. The fund aims to drive various industry initiatives, with allocation to projects being determined through joint agreements between SAT and the trade, as represented by the TBCSA.

TBCSA CEO, Mmatšatši Ramawela says the fund was born out of extensive industry engagement and collaboration. “The #WaterWiseTourism campaign has provided the right setting for us to share information about this fund and we are grateful to the SA Tourism leadership for agreeing to its establishment,” she says.

To secure support through the fund, a set of parameters has been agreed upon within which prospective initiatives should fall. These include:

  • Joint Marketing Agreements, particularly as they relate to increasing tourist arrivals through empowerment initiatives for local operators and local tourism businesses
  • Empowering bursaries and scholarships to support travel and tourism students/youths
  • Crisis management initiatives, with the current drought/water crisis PR campaign as a start
  • Support for or trade shows for TOMSA Levy Contributors including the sponsorship for emerging businesses which require funding to attend and exhibit
  • Initiatives to facilitate a welcome environment at ports of entry into South Africa, which may include information provision facilities
  • Support for Provincial/Local Tourism agencies and DMOs in the promotion of their destinations
  • Support for the business tourism industry to increase tourist arrivals into the country
  • Initiatives to support and promote domestic tourism by supporting local travel and tour operators

With the recent negative media coverage and trade sentiment circulating as a result of the drought, Ramawela says: “In the face of changing global climate conditions, there is no doubt that South Africa is facing serious challenges when it comes to access to water. From a TOMSA perspective, we saw the need to lend our support to current efforts by the industry to ensure responsible media reporting on the situation. We want to support the initiatives to ensure that the global trade has the correct information and that our tourists could make informed decisions about their visit to our country.”

Shadow Minister of Tourism, James Vos, says that a healthy tourism industry in South Africa – and Cape Town, which is the epicentre of the current nationwide drought – means more visitors, more income and ultimately more jobs and opportunities. “I support this initiative to provide funding towards promotion. This means a tourism contribution that works for the tourism industry that doesn’t penalise local people and has the sole purpose of improving and promoting the region. Right now, tourism is one of the best performing sectors in our country’s economy.”

In an effort to encourage water saving, Cape Town Tourism launched the #SaveLikeALocal campaign with the backing of the travel and hospitality sector. If tourism is encouraged during these tough times, and the excellent attractions that the country presents are well marketed – particularly the towns and destinations in rural areas with less water constraints, and the many guest houses and B&Bs, hotels and conferencing venues in our cities that are absolute water-saving and re-use proficient, “we can continue to stimulate growth throughout the entire province and country. We need to do everything to save water so as to save tourism”, says Vos.

“In an age where hashtags have become a way to communicate a challenge or ask a question in a simple and tweetable way, I thought that the impact of tourism for our future as a country and opening our country for all to experience and share along with the lifeblood of water is essentially linked to #WaterWiseTourism”.