Just over a year ago, South African Tourism set itself a target – five million more tourists in five years – certainly ambitious, considering the global economic climate.

The aptly named 5-in-5 strategy has been a year in progress and an assessment of its success will now be undertaken. Once performance statistics are calculated and a clear picture of how the strategy fared in its first year of implementation emerges, adjustments, if necessary, will be made.

The plan ticks several boxes, says Sisa Ntshona, CEO of SA Tourism. “At its heart, this strategy ensures that there is co-ordination among the different stakeholders in the tourism industry – from both the private and public sectors. At the same time, it ensures that SA Tourism continuously updates and provides research and insights to all stakeholders. This, in turn, will ensure that stakeholders make informed choices on investments as well as keep up with global and local tourism trends as they pertain to consumers and trade.”

The plan, he says, has also ensured that inclusive growth and the transformation agenda in the industry be addressed. “It has given opportunity for different offerings that go beyond the three big traditional offerings of ‘berg, beach and bush, to be included in the plethora of tourism attractions representative of all South Africans from all the different provinces of our country.”

Explaining 5-in-5 

The strategy, says Ntshona, comprises several elements.

“There is what we call a market investment framework. This is a portfolio of markets we have identified for SA Tourism to play in,” he says.

It involves investing market resources in regions around the world that have shown great performance and potential to grow. These include core markets in Europe, the Americas, the rest of the African continent, and most importantly around domestic travel.

Investment has also been made in markets in the Nordics, South East Asia and Middle East region.

“We are continuously building the destination brand to make it recognisable, appealing, resilient and competitive across all markets and segments,” says Ntshona. “This we do through working closely with the trade to ensure that all offerings across the entire value chain are of high quality and live up to the brand promise we are all working tirelessly to market.”

The strategy has ensured that SA Tourism will build effective partnerships between relevant government tourism authorities and the private sector.

“Between July and August 2017, South African Tourism embarked on various provincial roadshows to align and co-ordinate efforts with all players to inject momentum and solidify these partnerships as we deliver on the strategy,” says Ntshona. Insights and analytics were shared, marketing collateral aligned, and fruitful partnerships encouraged. “The roadshows and all interactions have been well received and the regular meetings that are still taking place, show interest in delivering on these plans.”

For the 5-in-5 strategy to stand any chance of success, these partnerships are crucial, he says, and there is no doubt that the combination of efforts, if realised, will translate into increased tourism numbers and revenue.

With the first year of the strategy completed in December, performance will now be measured, and the necessary modifications made. “It is, however, important to note that the drafting, consideration and implementation of the strategy by all players – both in the public and the private sector across the country – have brought a singular focus for this industry,” comments Ntshona.

Progress and challenges

It has not all been smooth sailing, though, says Ntshona. “We are currently operating in a very competitive global environment that has posed some challenges. The weaker rand has made it expensive to market internationally, and South African households are under economic strain and travel is not considered a priority. Also, some of our competitors have made it easier for travellers to enter their destinations by relaxing immigration regulations or granting visas on arrival.”

But, he says, judging by the growing optimism for the strategy and the overall buy-in achieved so far, 5-in-5 is well on its way to success.