24 July 2014

South African Tourism CEO unveils updated five-year strategic plan

The key objectives are to grow tourism’s contribution to the economy by 1.5% annually, create a thriving tourism sector, and make the South Africa brand a global player in portfolio markets.

Thulani Nzima, South African Tourism CEO, addresses TBCSA members

One of our key objectives is to increase tourist arrivals to South Africa by being a competitive, affordable destination that offers tourists memorable experiences. – Thulani Nzima, South African Tourism CEO

South African Tourism CEO Thulani Nzima recently outlined its updated five-year strategic plan and its 2014/15 annual performance plan at the Tourism Business Council of South Africa (TBCSA) AGM.

He told TBCSA members that South African Tourism is still operating in a very challenging environment, with many markets where it has a presence still trying to recover from the global financial crisis. 

‘While recovery is happening, it is very slow in many markets, with disposable income limited and even shrinking in some markets where governments have introduced austerity measures.’ 

He said while the weakening of the South African rand is a positive development for inbound tourism, at the same time it has eroded South African Tourism’s marketing budget in many markets, in some cases by as much as 30%.

South African Tourism operates in various key markets around the world to create awareness of brand South Africa and grow tourist arrivals to the country. The aim is to grow tourism’s trended revenue contribution to the economy by 1.5% per annum and increase foreign tourist arrivals to 15-million and domestic tourists to 18-million by 2020.

‘One of our key objectives is to increase tourist arrivals to South Africa by being a competitive, affordable destination that offers tourists memorable experiences. This in turn will lead to longer stays in the country, resulting in greater travel spend per tourist and improved geographic spread of tourists to more of South Africa’s provinces,’ he said.

Nzima said achieving this objective will aid South African Tourism in fulfilling its mandate – as set out in the new Tourism Act – to create a tourism economy that contributes to sustainable GDP growth, job creation, redistribution and transformation.

Other key objectives are to increase domestic tourism in South Africa, provide quality assurance for tourism products, and sell South Africa as a business events destination.

Changes to tourist arrivals reporting
Nzima also announced a change in the way tourist arrivals will be reported in future. 

'Until now our deliverable has been based on foreign arrivals to the country. But from the start of our 2015/16 financial year, we will measure on the basis of tourist arrivals only,’ he said. 

In the 2013/14 financial year, South Africa recorded 14.86-million foreign arrivals and 9.61-million tourist arrivals. And South African Tourism estimates that in the 2015/16 financial year tourist arrivals will increase to around 10.4-million.

South Africa experienced a decline in the number of domestic tourists in the 2013/14 period, dropping from 12.5-million in the 2012/13 financial year to 12-million in 2013/14. However, Nzima is confident that with the initiatives South African Tourism has implemented, domestic tourism numbers will increase.

South Africa’s business events sector has been doing very well, with the number of business events delegates visiting South Africa in the 2013/14 financial year increasing significantly to 94 893, up from 52 587 delegates in the 2012/13 financial year. This increase can be attributed to the work of the South African National Convention Bureau, which launched in 2012, and its public- and private-sector business events partners. 

South Africa has also improved its International Congress and Convention Association country ranking from 37 to 34. It remains the top business events destination in Africa, and is ranked 15th among long-haul business events destinations. 

Market portfolio
South African Tourism’s portfolio of markets where it has a presence or spends its marketing budget is reviewed every three years. The fourth portfolio review ended on 30 March 2014, and South African Tourism has now finalised its fifth portfolio market analysis, identifying the markets it will focus marketing efforts in over the next three years.

South African Tourism has identified core markets where most of its marketing budget is spent, as well as investment, tactical, watch-list and strategic markets.

In Africa, South African Tourism’s core markets for the next three years are Angola, Mozambique, Nigeria, Kenya, Tanzania and South Africa, with investments markets being Botswana, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Ghana, Lesotho, Uganda and Zimbabwe.

In the Americas region, Brazil joins the United States as a core market, with Canada identified as an investment market, and Argentina as a watch-list market. South African Tourism will be opening an office in Brazil in September 2014.

In the Asia/Australasia region, China has joined India and Australia as core markets, with Japan and South Korea being investment markets.

In Europe (including the United Kingdom), France, Germany, the Netherlands and the UK remain core markets, with Italy and Russia being investment markets.

Nzima said South African Tourism will continue its hub strategy to take advantage of opportunities in non-core markets. This means, for example, that the Brazil office will take care of marketing activities in Argentina, Chile, Mexico, Peru and Columbia, while China as a hub will take care of Japan, South Korea, and Indonesia, Vietnam, Singapore and Malaysia.

And South African Tourism’s focus on regional Africa – an important growth region – will also be ongoing. South African Tourism recently opened an office in Lagos, Nigeria and there are plans to open offices in Angola and Kenya to take advantage of opportunities in those regions to grow tourism to South Africa.