Tourism and economic development in the Western Cape are to benefit from an allocation of R523m (€32m), says Minister of Economic Opportunities, Beverley Schäfer.

This was announced in the Minister’s 2019/20 budget delivery speech for Agriculture and Economic Development and Tourism, last week, with some of the focal points being digital uptake in the tourism sector, and the development of skills within this sector.

Only 22% of SA visitors book through traditional travel agencies.

The department recently conducted research into the need for technical skills in the Western Cape economy, says the Minister. “One of the areas we looked at was the tourism sector. While it is not typically seen as a tech sector, this is an industry where the majority of flights and accommodation are booked online and marketing happens on social media, and online.”

The study showed that only 22% of visitors to South Africa used traditional travel agencies to book their trips. “Online booking tools for flights, hotel reservations and other tourism attractions have changed the tourism landscape, and yet the study found that few tour guide courses offer any kind of mobile technology training,” says Schäfer.

The study further noted that while bigger international hotel chains would be able to keep up with changing digital needs, it was vital for smaller and medium-sized hospitality businesses to possess social media skills as these are key to marketing their businesses.