Despite the massive cut to its marketing budget, South African Tourism is still focused on other projects for the remainder of the year.

During the Budget Vote in late July, Deputy Minister of Tourism, Fish Mahlalela, explained that SA Tourism will be working on a solution to increase the geographic spread of tourism business events and broadening participation in the sector.

“SA Tourism is developing a framework to capacitate national associations to host business events in Villages, Towns and Small Dorpies (VTSDs) across the nine provinces,” said Mahlalela.

In an exclusive interview with Tourism Update, Mahlalela explained that the budget cut won’t affect this programme. “The budget for this framework is still available. The training of national associations will occur this year to prepare for the reopening of the sector to international markets,” he explained.

“With this framework, we will have all the information for the next financial year on what is available in these towns and small dorpies to host events. The marketing and implementation will occur in the next financial year”

“The pandemic has presented us the unique opportunity to be more integrated and go out to the world with a unified message of why to visit our country once borders are open,” said Big Ambitions MD, Natalia Rosa. She said there is a need for a change in mind-set when it comes to waiting for government to market the country as a top destination. “We need to empower ourselves and market our destination before our products, with a collaborative effort and budgets,” she added.

“Can you imagine if we as private sector went out to the world with all of our budgets used to market our own products with a unified message? We wouldn’t need to wait on government,” she said.

During a Euronews Debates webinar on Africa-European tourism, CEO of SA Tourism, Sisa Ntshona, said tourism remains important to the government as a “main sustainable service revenue generator”.

“The revised National Tourism Sector Strategy envisages sustainable development and growth of tourism enterprises in a manner that facilitates inclusive participation, job creation and contributes to the competitiveness of tourism destinations,” he said.

He added that SA Tourism was encouraging the sector to continue self-regulating with the protocols especially with the restarting of domestic tourism. “We have a strong international market and weaker domestic market and we want to correct that,” he said.

“We need to ensure domestic tourism is strong and that all product offerings can meet the demand of the domestic market.”