While away on vacation recently, I had many hours to ponder on a heavily debated topic of interest – ‘Quo Vadis Inbound Tourism to South Africa’
So where are we going? Numbers are dramatically down but regardless of how we analyse the numbers they don’t really tell a convincing story.
Of course the new visa and child travel regulations must have had an impact in certain source markets but is that the total and only truth?
Ebola has come and gone with some turbulence left behind but is that a reason?
Don’t we make it too easy by simply looking one-dimensionally at these changes and events? Or are there undercurrents that have been overlooked due to the crashing noise of the bigger waves?
Our current rate of exchange seems to suggest that our global competitiveness has improved yet this seems to not be the culprit.
The truth is simple… with the goal of keeping us on ‘top of mind’, ‘in demand’ and an overall ‘trendy’ country to travel to we are just not doing enough to position and market the destination. I am well aware that this is a mandate South African Tourism, in conjunction with the provinces, regions and some private enterprises, has embarked on but more involvement from the rest of the industry on these initiatives could prove highly beneficial.
I spend most of my life overseas and can’t help but notice that the visibility of South Africa compared with other countries that have similar appeal to travellers is rather poor and needs a stronger leadership-driven, passionate and co-ordinated effort to leapfrog back into the sunshine. It requires a material effort of all stakeholders to get it right, so let’s start off by agreeing that some of our volume problems are homemade and not only by Home Affairs.