With many travel barriers to South Africa being lifted – including the recent announcement that the country has been taken off the UK’s red list – tourism bodies have kicked the Global Advocacy Programme into gear to ramp up advocacy efforts in key source markets around the world.
This programme, which forms part of the Tourism Sector Recovery Plan, was initiated by the Department of Tourism, South African Tourism and the Tourism Business Council of South Africa (TBCSA), following protracted damaging narratives and misinformation reported globally about South Africa, particularly around COVID-19 strains.
“We are going to embark on a strategic, yet direct, approach to our markets to ensure that consumers, trade partners and the global media are truthfully informed about the memorable and affordable, easy accessibility and safety factors that come with travelling to South Africa in this COVID-19 environment,” said Minister of Tourism, Lindiwe Sisulu.
She said she and her department had learnt “quite a bit” over the last few weeks as they dealt with various missions and embassies in working behind the scenes to get South Africa off the red lists and travel advisories.
“It’s these learnings, along with contributions from the sector, that we will take into this important advocacy programme to lead the reshaping of the South African narrative to a positive and welcoming one and increase our arrivals from tourists, both for leisure and business events. To this end we anticipate some early shoots ahead of the festive season,” said Sisulu.
SA Tourism Acting CEO, Sthembiso Dlamini, added: “As the economy slowly opens up we have a golden opportunity as the tourism sector to build on this and use this to our benefit. From a country attractiveness and brand appeal perspective, travellers need to be assured that South Africa is safe, affordable, and welcoming, with a variety of value-for-money and unique experiences.”
TBCSA CEO, Tshifhiwa Tshivhengwa, agreed. “Our inbound tourism recovery is dependent on the attractiveness of our brand as a tourist destination. The Global Advocacy Programme will help to rebuild our country’s brand. The recovery and re-imagination of tourism in South Africa will benefit with the successful implementation of this programme globally. The TBCSA fully supports the advocacy programme as a catalyst for tourism recovery.”
The Brave Group, a global agency that focuses on brand and campaign development, has been appointed as the partnering agency to execute the advocacy programme across key source markets over the next three years. It will be working with specialist agencies, MMGY Global and Africa Desk, to build positive brand affinity for South Africa with the international leisure travel and business community.
“Working with policy-makers and influential voices in the global tourism sector, we need to show that South Africa is the country to visit and do business in. We need strong supporting global agency partners to work with us in instilling confidence by getting key messages to our trade partners and consumers in our source markets around the world,” said Dlamini.