SATSA wishes to clarify comments that were attributed to its CEO David Frost in the article entitled ‘SA’s MICE sector at risk amid safety concerns’.
A series of questions pertaining to safety and security and the current impact on the tourism sector were put to Frost. The first: The impact of travel advisories on inbound travel.
Frost’s simple but nuanced answer was that these advisories have less of an impact on FIT travel. His assertion was that independent travellers are less likely to canvas foreign office websites and ultimately can make their own choices.
Where travel advisories could potentially have more impact, are for travelling corporates or companies organising travel on behalf of staff. As such, the MICE sector is more vulnerable to travel advisories.
These are the statements that Frost made to Tourism Update and not what was attributed to him in the article. The interview was further focused on safety and security in general, not on the MICE sector per se.
Frost’s assertion around the impact of perceptions about tourism safety as they pertain to the MICE industry are that the sector is sensitive to uncertainties due to compliance requirements; not, as was suggested in the article, that South Africa would be scratched off the list of potential destination for the MICE sector due to that uncertainty.
It is Frost’s view that, beyond addressing questions about tourism safety, it is time to convene a strategic think-tank for tourism safety, incorporating top-level security experts, and to learn best-practice from countries like Columbia which have faced similar challenges.
What is needed is an in-depth discussion which transcends the ‘what’ and addresses robustly the ‘how’, providing a practical, strategic response – four key initiatives – that public and private sector can get behind to mitigate risks to tourism.
The MICE Sector is an important part of South Africa’s inbound tourism sector. It is our role as industry to provide our international customers with the confidence that we are open for business and that South Africa consistently delivers a world-class meeting, conference and incentive travel experience.
Tourism Update agreed to send Frost his quotes for verification prior to publication following an in-depth conversation with the CEO, which we failed to do and this resulted in him being misquoted. Tourism Update apologises for this.