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8 May 2011

Emerging Markets and Global Trends discussed at Global Media Face Off

INDABA 2011’s Global Media Face Off provided robust debate in Durban earlier today.

Richard Quest at the Global Media Face Off

World-class broadcast star quality, style and showmanship was mixed with hard tourism facts, figures and strategy as CNN’s Richard Quest once again moderated INDABA’s Global Media Face Off today.

In his inimitable fashion and in his trademark pin-stripes, spectacles and toothy grin, the popular Quest moderated INDABA, which had the theme of “Emerging Markets and Global Trends” in the tourism industry and the country’s strategy post the 2010 FIFA World Cup. 

On the GMFO panel this year were Director-General in the Department of Tourism, Kingsley Makhubela, South African Tourism CEO Thandiwe January-McLean, International Marketing Council CEO Miller Matola, Tourism Enterprise Partnership CEO Dr Salifou Siddo and Board of Airline Representatives of South Africa CEO Allan Moore.

With around 300 local and international journalists in attendance the media briefing tackled subjects such as the objectives of the National Tourism Sector Strategy, the rise of emerging markets, global and domestic tourism campaigns and strategies to address opportunities in various markets, as well as job creation in the industry.

One of the critical objectives of the NTSS), Ambassador Makhubela said at the session, was identifying the need for streamlining resources and the accurate measuring of results, in relation to the spend required for the country’s tourism marketing efforts.

Ambassador Makhubela also stressed the collaboration between the private and public sector and the National Tourism Department’s continued work in forging mutually beneficial relationships with other national departments in ensuring that the interests of tourism and its growth and contribution to the GDP remain a key focus on the national agenda.

Expanding South Africa’s offering

The route to further success, according to SA Tourism CEO, Thandiwe January-McLean, lies in the diversification of not only South Africa’s target market focus going forward, but in the offerings presented to these markets in terms of experiences.  Continuing the underlying theme of INDABA thus far, January-McLean stressed the importance of South Africa’s people, culture, heritage and lifestyle tourism offerings as key to sustaining awareness and leading to conversion.  This new focus, supported by SA Tourism’s marketing strategies and campaigns for the next year, is of particular importance to the markets showing exponential growth throughout 2010; namely Brazil, India, China and those countries within the Africa region. 

New markets, same challenges

Given South Africa’s elevated prominence in the global emerging economies scene, following our recent integration into the BRICS economic coalition, the continued rise of the developing world’s share of global economic power is particularly relevant to future growth of the tourism industry. Emerging markets were a core focus for the GMFO this year, given the natural progression of investment flow in relation to travel trends, according to the IMC’s Miller Matola. He added that the burgeoning middle class in these emerging markets, including countries within Africa such as the DRC, Angola, Nigeria and Kenya, presents huge opportunities for the local tourism industry, across both business and leisure tourism industries.  

With questions raised about continued challenges around access issues - particularly visa and airlift concerns, Moore contributed to airlift discussions with a frank take on the challenges of airlift to South Africa.

Moore said if the route is competitive and cost effective, airlines will add flights.  The projected growth in travel to South Africa would significantly create further motivation for additional flights, whether direct or indirect, but is hampered by the surcharges, discretionary charges etc that reduce attractiveness to the airlines themselves.  A call for a reigning in of costs was central to airlift issues; a concerning challenge that needs to be addressed if reaching arrivals targets from identified tourism markets are to be recognised.

Job Creation still centre stage

One of the topics upon which all panellists agreed, was the importance of the SMME sector in delivering on the job creation targets set in the NTSS.  The tourism sector has been set the target of creating 225 000 jobs in the sector by 2020, a goal the Tourism Enterprise Partnership (TEP) intends on contributing significantly towards.  Salifou Siddo, TEP’s CEO, set clear targets for the organisation to achieve, citing 10 000 new jobs and an incremental revenue stream of R450 million as its targets for the current financial year.  The National Department’s commitment to meeting and supporting, rand-for-rand, the revenue targets generated by the TEP was warmly welcomed.

Africa to the fore

January-McLean said the African tourism market was critical for South African Tourism, which would spend nearly R60-million on its marketing efforts on the continent, with tourists from the likes of Angola, Nigeria, DRC and Kenya showing tremendous potential for leisure and lifestyle tourism to South Africa and possessing considerable spending power.

Within South Africa, a significant focus on Domestic Tourism going forward will ensure that South Africans provide greater revenue streams to SMME tourism stakeholders, with no bias towards any specific province.  While this has remained the policy of SA Tourism for many years, there was a reiterated call to regional tourism bodies to up their game in terms of promoting their provinces to fellow South Africans, as well as the supply of attractive product offerings to drive interest.

In addition to these main points of discussion, the GMFO panel this year provided updates on the implementation of the proposed EU open skies policy, the competitiveness of South Africa as a tourism destination and the readiness of our country to welcome guests from fellow BRICS countries.

Collaboration key to success

Undoubtedly, the over-riding consensus amongst panellists was the appreciation for improved communication between the various tourism sector bodies, which have been aligned into a cohesive unit with the introduction of the NTSS.