27 August 2014

Tourism minister launches Tourism Month

Tourism Minister Derek Hanekom has called on all South Africans to take time to visit the sites and attractions around the country associated with the life and legacy of Nelson Mandela.

Tourism Minister Derek Hanekom with Morning Live presenter Leanne Manas at the 2014 Tourism Month launch

To reach our target of 18-million domestic tourists by 2020, as set out in the National Tourism Sector Strategy, we will have to work hard to ensure that tourism is more affordable and more accessible to all South Africans. – Minister of Tourism Derek Hanekom

Hanekom made the call at a function in Johannesburg’s Maboneng Precinct on 26 August 2014 to celebrate the launch of Tourism Month, which is held in South Africa every September. 

The theme of this year’s Tourism Month is ‘Tourism Transforming Lives’, and Hanekom is encouraging South Africans to get out and explore their beautiful and diverse country.

To make it as easy as possible for South Africans to visit Mandela sites and attractions, South African Tourism has developed an interactive map of Madiba-inspired tourist attractions, which can be accessed via the mandela.southafrica.net website. It highlights the sites and provides all the information necessary to plan a visit. 

Domestic tourism is an important focus area for the National Department of Tourism (NDT), which it sees as crucial to the long-term growth and sustainability of South Africa’s tourism industry, said Hanekom. 

‘We are committed to ensuring the wonders we boast and the unique heritage we have been endowed with are shared by an ever-growing number of South Africans,’ he said. 

He added that a big focus of the NDT is to increase tourism’s contribution to GDP, job creation and transformation. ‘We are also focusing our efforts on using tourism to improve under-developed areas of South Africa,’ he said. 

South Africa’s domestic tourism market has remained under pressure since the 2008/09 global financial crises, with 2013 domestic tourism figures flat on those of 2012. In 2013, 12-million domestic tourists took 25.1-million trips, compared with 12.5-million domestic tourists in 2012 who took 25.4-million trips. However, despite the decline in the number of domestic tourists and trips in 2013, domestic tourism's contribution to the economy increased from R21.8-billion in 2012 to R24.3-billion in 2013.

Hanekom said the lack of growth in the sector can be attributed to the continued pressure on South African consumers given the slower growth of the national economy. 

‘To reach our target of 18-million domestic tourists by 2020, as set out in the National Tourism Sector Strategy, we will have to work hard to ensure that tourism is more affordable and more accessible to all South Africans,’ he said. 

The government has allocated R100-million in secured ring-fenced funding to South African Tourism for the 2015/16 financial year to bolster domestic tourism marketing efforts. 

These will include the continued roll-out of the 'Nothing’s More Fun than a Sho’t Left' campaign, which was launched at the start of Tourism Month last year. The campaign drives home the message that travel in South Africa is fun, an investment in oneself and one’s relationships, and is accessible and affordable.

There has been very good market reaction to the campaign to date, with more than 200 000 visits to the website by 25 July 2014 and a 25% return rate. This indicates that one in four users returns to the site to check for new deals. The average stay on the site is almost six minutes, which shows users are engaging with the content and making bookings.

South African Tourism is also working closely with the South African trade and other key tourism partners to make travel more accessible and relevant to domestic tourists. Members of the trade are encouraged to upload their value-for-money deals to the Sho’t Left website and to provide a variety of package and options to suit all budgets.

World Tourism Day, on 27 September 2014, will be celebrated under the theme, ‘Tourism and Development in the Community’. 

‘For us in South Africa this is certainly relevant, as 20 years into our democracy, the development of our communities, particularly disadvantaged ones, still remains an overarching priority,’ said Hanekom, adding that the potential of tourism to develop communities is significant. 

This year, South Africa’s World Tourism Day celebrations will take place in the Northern Cape.