The National Tourism Visitor Information System (NTVIS) and the Travel and Tourism Excellence Training Academy are set to start operations in January.

This unprecedented alliance between key stakeholders in SA’s private travel and tourism sector, travel solutions portal Amadeus, and the National Department of Tourism (NDT), was discussed at the Africa-Italy Summit/Indaba in October, with progressive steps being taken to activate these first two programmes.

The alliance was consolidated through an Advisory Panel comprising representatives of the former sitting on December 5. The government-industry partnership is governed through a general assembly of industry stakeholders led by the Advisory Panel, with the actual project development being outsourced by Amadeus to appointed, local economic empowerment companies in SA. The NDT will act as Deputy Chair of the Advisory Panel, and Thebe Tourism Group as the appointed administrator.

“The hands-on involvement of the private sector, on the other hand, ensures we leverage existing resources and expertise that NTVIS and the Academy require, to deliver the services, products and skilled professionals that will transform our industry,” says Sandile Ntseoane, Chair of the Advisory Panel and General Manager Southern African Vehicle Rental & Leasing Association.

Project breakdown and deliverables

The NTVIS will commence project work in three main areas:

  1. Infrastructure to improve visitor experience, including an industry curated visitor portal and app
  2. A data hub, to equip the sector’s businesses with improved insight to inform business strategies and decision making
  3. Booking tool and business application to boost access to the global market of SMEs

NTVIS project delivery will be spread out, with content and functionality made available in phases from as early as May 2019.

Jerry Mabena, CEO of Thebe Tourism Group, says: “A major goal of the NTVIS initiative is to stimulate business opportunities within the tourism and related sectors among those in rural and peri-urban environments; and this has also been a big focus for us as a business. South Africa has such enormous potential for both domestic and international tourism; we must ensure that the benefits reach beyond the iconic, well-established destinations and the big industry players, to marginalised communities living on the doorstep of spots that can attract tourists too.”

The Excellence Training Academy, which aims to bridge the gap between what businesses in the travel and tourism industry need in skills and what mainstream academia offers, will begin training at the end of January 2019.