Mosola is dedicated to the theme that tourism is South Africa’s new gold. Any interview with him over the past few months and you’ll hear the same ‘golden’ mantra. Indeed the theme at this year’s Indaba in Durban was sprinkled with gold dust— so to speak. As Mosola points out (at every possible opportunity), “Tourism eclipsed gold two years ago as a foreign exchange earner for South Africa. Its contribution to GDP, to growth and to development becomes increasingly significant.”
He is also very quick to point out the obvious — tourism means jobs, and our Deputy President, Phumzile Mlamblo-Ngcuka, would agree.
As she said at the opening of the Travel Indaba 2006, “The government is firm in its conviction that tourism is a cornerstone of growth, and forms one of the key sectors in delivering the Accelerated Shared Growth Initiative — South Africa (ASGI-SA). Accelerating economic growth without accelerating the growth in tourism would be folly, given the results the sector has shown.”
She also said that although tourism outperformed all other sectors of the economy there is still huge work to be done. The facts say it all: while our competitors create one job for every eight arrivals, at present South Africa creates one job for every twelve arrivals, which certainly means there is work to be done.
Mlambo-Ngcuka also went on to say that growing the domestic market is absolutely key to sustaining the growth of the market.
Moeketsi Mosola is also an ardent preacher of the fact that local is not only lekker (really nice), but will create a new culture of tourism amongst a people who never had the opportunity to travel for pleasure. He says that getting local folk to travel is essential to the big picture of tourism. “The potential of domestic tourism is the foundation on which we can build a proud, authentic, truly South African brand, enhancing our position as a highly sought-after destination in the global arena,” he says.
If you speak to anyone at South African Tourism or indeed in the travel & tourism industry — they’ll tell you that while the international market will always be important, it’s the local market that’s going to be the big money-spinner in the long run. That’s where Sho’t Left comes in….
“It’s possible, let’s waai (go)” is the slogan of the quirky Sho’t Left domestic campaign. It came about in 2004 when SAT and its major stakeholders saw the need to invent something very local and lots of fun to inspire the “emerging traveller” to take a holiday. Sho’t Left (based on taxi speak for “just around the corner”) has definitely stuck in the minds of South Africans. Through consistent and targeted media campaigns the Sho’t Left concept is making waves and more and more people are starting to travel for other reasons than just visiting friends and relatives.
The aim of the campaign has always been the same — to get Joe Ordinary to travel. However, in order to do that, affordability issues had to be addressed first. This is where the stakeholders came in to create packages that epitomise the “Affordable Holidays in Mzansi” theme. Companies such as Thompson’s Tours, African Link Tours and Holiday Tours (to mention just a few) quickly jumped on the bandwagon and are still firmly committed to the cause. The packages on offer are nothing fancy — but are fun, practical and certainly won’t break the bank.
There are City Breaks (for those of us with little time to spare) as well as Day-Tripping packages, Coastal Getaways, Countryside Meanders, Mountain Escapes and Cultural Discoveries. The Sho’t Left Fun Bus concept is another winner. With a number of dates (and destinations) on offer, the Funbus promises to be a great mini-holiday for first time and other travellers. An example of this would be the Joburg to KwaZulu-Natal Funbus package: for Just R900 (per adult in a twin-room) you get to travel from Jozi to Durban in a luxury coach with two nights accommodation at the Garden Court South Beach with breakfast included and a dinner voucher (along with other special vouchers thrown in). Kids pay just R630 (about $90) and on it goes.
The thinking behind Sho’t Left is closely linked to the Domestic Growth Strategy which identifies different markets — for example, the “Independent Young Couples” profile will have different needs to the “Home-based Low Income Couples”, “The Young and Up Coming Traveller” will have different needs to the ‘Basic Needs Older Families’ and so on. The challenge has been to provide something for everyone.
The Up and Coming Traveller is hugely important and will pave the way for huge domestic growth in the future. This is where something like the the Sho’t Left Challenge television series comes in to play. The second series was launched in May and is very much linked to reaching the young black South African adult who wants to “experience and explore” the country. The half-hour television programme encourages young South African adults to go on an adventure in their own backyard — think bungee jumping, canopy walks, learning to surf — you name it. The pacy programme is something of a local version that is a mix between Amazing Race and Survivor. Last year’s programme was hugely popular and this year’s proves to be even more exciting.
Skills and training in the tourism industry has to play a major role and that’s where the Fundi Domestic programme comes in. This learning initiative — launched earlier this year — is dedicated to boosting local travel in a big way. The programme is an accredited course for the travel industry aimed at supporting the local tourism industry to address lack of knowledge regarding the domestic holiday offerings. The course gives the basics of travel and tourism as well as the highlights of each province, possible itineraries and all the contacts one would need to enter the marketplace. The course is accessed via the worldwide web, which means that aspirant ‘fundis’ can learn about travel and tourism from all over the country.
Not that South Africa is hard to sell to South Africans, I mean who doesn’t want to go for a mountain escape to the Drakensberg, A weekend getaway to Cape Town or one week exploring the Venda Arts and Crafts Route — at affordable prices to boot. What are you waiting for? Time to waai for sure.
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