South Africa: safari capital; cultural haven; adventure hub; outdoor sensation; scenic dreamland. This year’s tourism month theme is “A billion tourists, a billion opportunities” with this in mind, South Africa’s focus lies on the domestic market as announced by minister Derek Hanekom at the media launch of Tourism month in Limpopo.
What makes tourism month as a South African all the more significant is our celebration of our heritage during the same month. Places and it’s people represent heritage – the stories centred around these assets South Africa holds not only gives us an advantage to global markets, but should be celebrated by our own. To quote Madiba at the 1995 Indaba opening, a quote which is still very relevant, 20 years after it was first said:
“Our own country, as part of Africa, is justly renowned for its thousands of kilometres of largely untamed coast line; its varied and spectacular terrain; the wealth of its animal, plant and bird life; and the unparalleled variety of its climatic regions.
But our natural beauty only offers a fitting setting for our country’s most valuable asset: its people. Ours is a nation of warm and generous people. Its great variety of culture and heritage, once exploited to divide our people, has been turned by them into a source of strength and richness in every sphere of life. Indeed our cultural diversity is increasingly, I am told, becoming one of our major tourist attractions.
It is in tourism that nature and humanity meet most equitably and profitably. Like with other countries, not only does the tourism industry bring the many cultures and nations of the world to our door-step and so expand our own world view. It also provides the resources for the conservation of our natural heritage.”
Our National Tourism Department’s focus this tourism month lies on encouraging all South Africans to get on the road and explore this unique and beautiful land of ours. All our provinces are interconnected and interdependent. Minister Hanekom stated that it is our collective challenge to collaborate in the interests of growing tourism with all its attendant economic and social benefits.
In 2014, tourism accounted for nearly ten percent of all employed people in South Africa. Domestic trips reached 28 million trips – an increase of 11%, the revenue from this totalling R26, 8 billion. The National Tourism Sector Strategy’s target of 18 million domestic tourists by 2020, will only be reached if we work collaboratively and make tourism more affordable and more accessible to all South Africans, while growing the culture of travel by South Africans in our own country.
The way the world travels has changed significantly: where visitors used to come to South Africa predominantly for a luxurious safari with limited interaction with the local communities, today’s traveller is searching for an authentic experience which involves building and uplifting communities while seeing the country we call home.
Initiatives focused on making travel affordable and accessible as well as marketing collaborations showcasing what South Africa has to offer for local and global travellers, combined with building communities at the heart of our business, positions the private sector companies as valued contributors to the targets set by the National Tourism Department.
With this in mind, Thebe Tourism Group (TTG) is committed to making travel affordable and accessible to all South Africans through initiatives such as the Thebe Travel Card and its newly launched rewards programme; Holiday Swap creating awareness of the tourism offerings for locals and visitors alike; marketing collaborations in the attraction sector through Cape Point and inter-company collaborations between TTG subsidiaries. With a focus on community upliftment in all TTG companies, we believe we are doing our bit in reaching the targets set by the National Tourism Department.
This tourism month we’d like to encourage you to be a tourist in your country and take one trip to somewhere you haven’t been before – as Robbie Robertson once said: “you don’t stumble upon your heritage. It’s there just waiting to be explored and shared”
By Judiet Barnes
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