Recent data from Statistics South Africa shows that the country’s tourism sector is gradually returning to pre-pandemic levels of activity. This is great news for us in the value chain of tourism. It means business can begin to recoup losses and hire back the staff members they had to let go during the height of the COVID-19 pandemic.
The Tourism Business Council of South Africa (TBCSA) is aware that more still needs to be done, such as increasing inbound tourism, government travel and returning to hosting in-person conferences. The lifting of the last remaining COVID-19 regulations has paved the way for more recovery to take place in the tourism sector.
Every month I send out a video newsletter to members of the council, and in the month of July I encouraged members to start moving away from Zoom to the conference rooms for their meetings. This is important for the full functioning of our Meetings, Incentives, Conferences & Exhibitions (MICE) sector of the value chain. Our call to see businesses resuming in-person conferences and exhibitions does not take away from the benefits we experienced from the technological advancements during the height of the pandemic.
We have already seen the positive impact of in-person gatherings at Africa’s Travel Indaba in Durban earlier this year. The mood was incredible as many in the industry wanted to show the world that South Africa is open for business.
South Africa is among the leaders in business tourism globally. Data from South African Tourism published in 2019 shows that about 800 000 people travel to South Africa annually for business, generating millions for the economy. Before the pandemic, the Department of Tourism showed that South Africa hosted 211 000 regional, national and international meetings, conferences and exhibitions. This just further strengthens the case for investing in our MICE industry.
The reason we are leaders in this space is because we have world-class infrastructure and facilities and our tourism establishments are able to offer business tourists the required meeting rooms and boardrooms – ideal places to host business and leisure events, while also allowing the same travellers to experience our beautiful country while spending money at restaurants and game parks. We, however, need to do more to see hotel groups be able to utilise these meeting rooms and return to full profitability.
The TBCSA will host its inaugural tourism leadership conference during the tourism month of September in Sun City. Through our conference, we are leading by example to other organisations to return to hosting in-person conferences. We are also going to gather to show just why the tourism sector is necessary for the country’s economy. This ground-breaking leadership conference takes place under the theme, Tourism: the engine of growth.
At this conference we will discuss among other things:
• A stronger partnership with the public and private sectors
• Marketing and promotion of South Africa as a preferred tourist destination
• Creation of sustainable employment for youth in South Africa in urban and rural areas
• Transformation and growth within the tourism sector
• Regional integration and co-operation (SADC and Africa)
• Government’s commitment in dealing with policy obstacles that are hindering tourism growth.
If you have not yet registered to join us as we pave the way forward for the tourism sector, you still have time – https://tbcsa.travel/conference/