The Tourism Business Council of South Africa (TBCSA) recently concluded a strategy session to discuss and agree on the way forward for the organisation.

Chairman of the Board, Blacky Komani, said the key strategy of the TBCSA was to reposition itself as the voice of the South African tourism industry, and re-establish its leadership role. The structure of tourism-representative bodies has sometimes been seen as competing, says Komani, but members agreed in the strategy session that one voice was needed to represent the industry.

“We realised that we had lost our leadership role as the TBCSA on key issues that affect the tourism industry,” said Komani. “We need to regain that position by being proactive as opposed to reactive.” Komani expands on this, saying that instead of waiting for government policies to come out, then commenting on them or reacting to them, the TBCSA aims to engage more dynamically with its stakeholders as well as government and the lawmakers – Home Affairs, Transport, Safety and Security – to proactively recommend policies that will benefit and grow the tourism industry.

Another key focus area will be improving on research and data collection, so that tourism stakeholders will have broader resources to call on to make informed decisions. “We currently produce the Tourism Business Index, but there are other resources that we need to be drawing from,” says Komani. “This includes policy matters that we should be engaging the government on. Research would also include exploring the overseas markets more deeply; asking the questions: Are we still relevant as a tourism destination? Are we offering value for money? Why are tourists not coming to SA? And explore other key points that influence our industry.”

The TBCSA will also be looking into transformation within its member base. “With the code changes being so fluid, members don’t always understand the differences between small, micro and medium-sized businesses. Our thought-leadership organisation should be about ‘decoding the codes’. We will also be looking for members who come from previously-disadvantaged communities.”

At the strategy session, the TBCSA discussed various projects that it would be implementing. One is to grow collections of TOMSA levies (Tourism Marketing South Africa). “The TBCSA has been under-collecting on TOMSA levies, so we need to work with the levy collectors – members of the various associations – to improve on collections. Preliminary research has already been done and a report compiled,” says Komani.

Tourism Update asked Komani about the implementation of the plans being put in place – processes and reporting in to the TBCSA on progress made. “I have weekly one-on-one meetings with acting CEO, Tshifhiwa Tshivhengwa, to discuss the status of projects, and we have deadlines in place. We will be announcing a permanent CEO by the end of September, to officially start on November 1. We also have a 90-day dashboard to achieve objectives, with feedback being given on 30-, 60- and 90-day milestones,” said Komani. “We will be appointing a communications company by October 9 to shape our communications to our various stakeholder sectors: government, the public, our members.”

Komani is positive about the TBCSA’s revived purpose. “We have a committed Minister in Derek Hanekom, who supports the vision and role of the TBCSA. And we have already met with the Portfolio Committee of Tourism in Cape Town, which has agreed to sit and talk about policy matters.”

Komani concludes that the TBCSA will be redesigned from an internal structural point of view, to ensure that it delivers on its strategy. “It is the job of the current acting CEO and new CEO to make sure that the TBCSA has the correct structure to successfully implement the approved strategy.”