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8 September 2017 , 5:37 am

“Show me any business sector, and I’ll show you how tourism contributes to it.”

Tourism in Africa

The opportunities for tourism in Africa are endless. “Show me any business sector in Africa, and I’ll show you how tourism contributes to it.” That was the message of Sisa Ntshona, CEO of South African Tourism, at the recent Business Traveller Africa Awards, which was held in Johannesburg.

Nshona explained that 2016 was a historical year for South Africa. “We reached the magical 10 million mark in terms of tourist arrivals, and that is a sign of things to come.”

However, Nshona also explained 2016 had been a year of recovery.

“We came from a 2014/2015 where the world decided that the whole of Africa has Ebola,” he said, adding that even though South Africa saw growth, we only had a very small part of the global tourism pie.

South Africa only has 1% of the tourism market share

There were 1.2 billion international arrivals in 2016 – but less than 5% of those came to Africa, and only 1% to South Africa. “We have less than 1% of market share. You can view that in two ways: you can think that we’re in trouble. Or, you can view it as an opportunity. As the saying goes: never let a good crisis go to waste!”

According to Nshona, tourism has been identified as an important sector that can help grow the economy and the country. “Globally tourism is expected to grow at 4% per annum. We want to grow more. We want to have more market share. We want to bring more tourists in this country,” he vowed.

Grow Tourism in Africa by five million in five years

To reach this growth, SA Tourism has developed a “five-in-five” strategy. Ntshona explains SA Tourism wants to grow tourism numbers by five million in five years. Of these figures four million would consist of international travellers, and one million domestic travellers.

Various strategies are in place to reach this ambitious target, from starting to work with South African Development Community (SADC) neighbours to package experiences in neighbouring countries (such as visiting Victoria Falls, moving to Mozambique’s beaches before coming to South Africa) to encouraging everything from health and medical tourism to sport tourism and of course, business tourism.

Coordination and inclusivity are key

However, there are still some obstacles, according to Ntshona. “My biggest frustration is the lack of coordination. We need to coordinate government and make sure we’re all aligned. We all play a role in tourism. Show me a sector, and I’ll show you how tourism contributes to it.”

Inclusivity also remains a challenge. Ntshona said: “The world is looking at inclusive growth, at how to include more minority sectors into the economy. In South Africa, we like to do things the other way around. Our challenge is about how to include more of the majority into the economy.”

South Africa painted itself into a corner by focussing only on the 3Bs: the beach, the berg and the bush, according to Ntshona.

“The 3 Bs great for the first-time visitor. But, we want to introduce new players with different products and services: cultural tourism, rural tourism, township tourism. When people feel excluded, they destroy. When they feel included, they protect. Let’s include more people in the sector.”

 

 

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This post was written by Amadeus Africa Team

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