Amos ‘Fish’ Mahlalela, South Africa’s Deputy Minister of Tourism, began his address to the National Assembly today (May 19) by confirming that the ministry was moving to implement the Tourism Sector Recovery Plan to put a dent in the pandemic-induced 70% loss of arrivals and earnings for South Africa.
Among others, objectives outlined included a focus on growing domestic travel, prioritising the MICE industry, growing local SMMEs, and job creation.
“While we focus on growing leisure visitor numbers stimulation through three domestic marketing campaigns, we will also focus on developing leads for a pipeline of business events for our destination,” Mahlalela explained, noting that the business events sector of South Africa had made significant strides with the resumption of hosting of physical events, albeit in a limited capacity.
The South African National Convention Bureau will actively seek to develop leads for future business events to ensure that South Africa develops and maintains a bid pipeline for continued growth of the event sector. One of the key strategies to maintain South Africa’s position as the number-one business events destination in Africa and the Middle East, and to be truly competitive on the international stage, is the enhanced focus on business development support.
SA Tourism, through its National Association Project, encourages local associations and federations to rotate their national meetings and conferences across different parts of South Africa; create bidding opportunities for villages, towns and small dorpies (tiny towns); and assist their development of MICE infrastructure by bidding for National Association meetings and conferences.
A focus on SMMEs and job creation
“For this financial year and beyond, a specific focus will be on reviewing the grading system to include emerging product and accommodation of SMMEs. A key component of our strategy is to ensure that demand is met by adequate, diverse and unique tourism products and services to entice and excite visitors to our shores,” Mahlalela added.
“To further accelerate the destination enhancement work, we will expand the Maintenance Programme to include several provincial parks as part of the Presidential Employment Stimulus. These prioritised parks have been identified in consultation with relevant authorities in all provinces.”
Total cumulative employment created by the maintenance programme was 857 with an expenditure of R82m (€4.9m) by mid-March.
The youth skills development programme will also be implemented nationwide to combat unemployment and consequent social strife.
Tourist guides uplifted
Over 3 000 students participated in the National Tourism Careers Expo (NTCE) 2021 with 80% of them from Gauteng. About 45 schools from Gauteng attended the event, which was hosted from March 25-27 at Nasrec. The NTCE positions tourism as a career of choice to learners and students.
“In order to capacitate tourist guides, we have just completed phase I of the implementation of the Mandarin language training programme for 55 tourist guides,” Mahlalela continued. “With the implementation of phase two of the Mandarin language training we will be targeting 38 tourist guides in this financial year. These are guides who made it at phase one and were selected for phase two.”
A workshop to facilitate international relations
“One of the platforms that the Department uses to advance the implementation of the MoUs that we have signed in partnership with provincial and local government spheres and the private sector, is the Best Practices Workshop that is held annually,” Mahlalela added.
The workshop targets countries that agreements have been signed with in Africa and across the globe, creating a platform that allows the representatives from each invited country and the experts in the field of tourism to share the best practices within the tourism field. Such workshops also allow the South African side to implement the signed agreements as well as contribute to regional integration.