The impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on South Africa’s tourism industry has highlighted a legacy issue in the industry – ensuring a broader geographic spread of tourism. In the second of a series of articles, Tourism Update explores how the Northern Cape, Eastern Cape and Free State are marketed.

Who is responsible for marketing tourism to international and domestic markets at a provincial level? SATSA Chairperson for the Free State, Dr Johan Hattingh, believes it is the role of the Destination Marketing Organisation.

“The Free State has five tourism routes and each one has a route tourism manager responsible for marketing,” he told Tourism Update. “As SA Tourism is the overarching DMO, it plays a role in marketing provinces, however its focus is on the international market.”

Hattingh says challenges come from a lack of cohesion and tourism information exchanges between tourism products and marketing agencies. “This fragmentation doesn’t bode well for tourism growth as marketing silos develop. We have found that very few people at a municipal level know what is happening, tourism-wise, in the province.”

CEO of the Eastern Cape Parks and Tourism Agency, Vuyani Dayimani, says marketing the Eastern Cape should be a collaborative effort between government and the private sector.

“There is a need for a unified approach that represents the tourism brand and is shared by all. We still need to unlock key rural tourism opportunities and MICE tourism initiatives in the province. We need to collaborate with relevant stakeholders in and outside the province,” he says.

CEO of the Northern Cape Tourism Authority, Sharron Lewis, says the domestic market is high on its agenda once local travel restrictions are lifted. “Through our ‘Explore Your Town. Experience Our Province’ campaign we will encourage the people of the Northern Cape to explore their towns, the museums, galleries, and then travel further and experience neighbouring regions.”

Lewis says social media and ‘influencer’ marketing has proved successful for the province. “Online campaigns have assisted in keeping the Northern Cape brand and destination top of mind.”