One of the biggest stumbling blocks in public/private sector collaboration is communication and the Minister of Tourism, Mmamaloko Kubayi-Ngubane, aims to improve that through ongoing stakeholder relationship building.

It’s been six months since Kubayi-Ngubane took on the role of tourism minister and she told Tourism Update in an exclusive interview that a lot still needed to be done to grow tourism to its full potential, to ensure more women, youths and black people play a meaningful role and the barriers to growth are addressed.

“To do this effectively, we need to do this together,” she said, conceding that government, with its slow processes and procedures, was often the stumbling block in the line of communication. “But we’re working on changing that and opening the lines of communication,” said Kubayi-Ngubane, pointing out that her department believed in accountability and responsibility.

She believes the end-goal is an agile, dynamic sector that works as one team to speedily address challenges to growth.

To achieve that, the Minister has conducted meetings with key stakeholders in tourism, as well as tourism bodies and associations. “I have met with the airlines and the key stakeholders in the rail sector and have a better understanding of where the growth opportunities are and where we have to tackle challenges and obstacles to growth,” said Kubayi-Ngubane.

She said she would also work with the various sectors on joint marketing strategies domestically and internationally. “Next year, we will embark on aggressive marketing strategies to grow inbound and domestic tourism.

“We can compete with the best in terms of our diverse tourism offering, which offers a rich cultural heritage, incomparable nature and wildlife experiences, nightlife and adventure and everything in between, but we need to work harder together to sell our destination.”

She encouraged the private sector, including tourism associations, to invite her to events and give her an opportunity to interact with industry.

Kubayi-Ngubane added that she had led delegations to various key markets such as China, Japan and, most recently, to West Africa with the sole objective of marketing and promoting South Africa to increase the numbers of tourist arrivals.

“By growing numbers, we grow opportunities for everyone involved in this vital economic sector,” she said.