The National Tourism Visitor Information System launched its official brand today, May 2, at Africa’s Travel Indaba – and aims to go live by December.

‘Jurni South Africa’ is the culmination of three years’ work in a partnership between Amadeus Southern Africa, and South Africa’s tourism fraternity. The initiative was announced at last year’s Indaba, as a public-private collaboration, said Sandile Ntseoane, Chairperson of the NTVIS Advisory Committee. “Its goal is to further the goals of transformation in SA – skills development, career operations, and a centralised data hub from which the entire tourism sector would benefit.”

The system was born out of an initiative led by the Amadeus group, said CEO of the Tourism Business Council of South Africa (TBCSA) – and programme director for the session – Tshifhiwa Tshivenga. “And it now enjoys the support of leading private and public stakeholders in the SA travel and tourism sector,” said Ntseoane. “[The initiative] aspires to enhance and empower the tourism industry through industry-informed initiatives. [And we] support this ground-breaking initiative that this new journey is embarking on.”

Roadmap of the NTVIS

CEO of the National Tourism Visitor Information System, Dr Nomvuselelo Songelwa, said the system was about building a centralised travel and tourism data hub that would provide credible and reliable information that could be distilled to regional and local level. “Bring diverse and disparate resources of the entire industry together [will deliver an] unbiased, comprehensive, consolidated data hub for the benefit for the entire industry.”

The system comprises three components:

  1. Online SMME booking tool – which will allow SMMEs in peri-urban, rural and township areas to promote their experiences or properties on mainstream tourism platforms
  2. Visitor and information portal that will feed into the data hub
  3. Visitor app and information portal will improve and enhance the visitor experience

The system would follow the journey of the traveller from aspiration to booking, the on-trip experience and post-trip sharing phases, added Songelwa. The app will then feed the data hub with real-time experiences while promoting to domestic and international travellers.

Tourism is about a journey – from aspiration to returning back home. This takes us into the journey of a traveller and the experiences of a traveller. – Tshifhiwa Tshivengwa

A global first

Managing Director of Amadeus Southern Africa, Andy Hedley, said there was nothing like this project anywhere else in the world – it’s a global first. “When we started looking at this project, the first year was a lot of internal discussion. Then last year we reached out to all stakeholders in the various areas of tourism; the response has been amazing. It has really has become a partnership/collaboration between the public and private sector.”

South African Tourism Minister, Derek Hanekom, said: “At the end of the day it’s about good experiences, and extending those benefits to as many people as possible. We want all of the things that we need to make decisions on being guided by good, reliable information. This is where training is critical. We ask the questions: Are we providing the training that is needed by the industry? Is that training relevant and effective, what is the absorption rate in industry; what difference is it making, and are we providing training in right places? This is where getting information on these probing questions [is vital].”

“In a nutshell: we need this kind of technology, this kind of innovation, to make our decisions really well – evidence-based decisions based on a variety of data that is well collected, well curated and analysed properly,” added Hanekom.

And because this was a world first, the rest of the world was watching, said Hedley. “So we don’t just want to be the first in the world – we want to be the best in the world,” added Hanekom. That is why the best team has been put in place to steer the initiative toward finalisation by the end of this year.