The COVID-19 pandemic has had a significant impact on South Africa’s tourism industry, resulting in a 70% loss in arrivals and earnings. Despite the challenges, recent trends show that domestic travel and international tourism are recovering, thanks to the implementation of the Tourism Sector Recovery Plan. This plan aims to ignite economic growth, create jobs, and revive the country’s tourism sector.
Addressing Barriers to Domestic Travel
The 2023/24 budget is dedicated to revitalizing and rejuvenating the tourism industry. The government is investing in addressing barriers that may deter South Africans from exploring their own country. Accessibility to information, affordability, and eliminating racial profiling are some of the critical factors being addressed to boost travel among the domestic population.
South African Product Owners (SAPO) are encouraged to cater to domestic travelers’ needs through various offerings. Deal-driven domestic campaigns aim to inspire citizens to take day and holiday trips by showcasing affordable and desirable experiences in a clear and accessible manner, underlined by personal safety messages.
Youth Skill Development Programs
The government is also investing in youth skill development programs. Last year, 2500 retrenched and unemployed youth were trained on the Norms and Standards for safe tourism operations, and 30 chefs received the NOF Level 5 Artisan Chef qualification from the South African Chefs Association. This year, the target is to train 50 more chefs and 660 learners in food and beverages across different provinces.
Infrastructure Maintenance and Development
To support the growth of tourism, the government is investing in tourism infrastructure and maintenance. A funding of R120 million has been allocated to the South African National Parks (SANParks) for implementing the Infrastructure Maintenance Program in 19 national parks. This program has created jobs and provided work and training opportunities for people from adjacent communities and villages. The Tourism Grading Council of South Africa (TGCSA) is also reviewing their grading criteria and focusing on innovation to include short-term rentals, sustainable initiatives, and new traveler trends.
Business Events and Multilateral Fora
The South African National Convention Bureau (SANCB) is developing leads for future business events to maintain South Africa’s position as the number one business events destination in Africa and the Middle East. SANCB is also targeting to host five business events in various provinces after the bidding process this financial year. South Africa is actively participating in six multilateral fora, including UNWTO, BRICS, SADC, IORA, G20, and AU, to advance the country’s tourism interests.
As the country embraces a new dawn in its tourism landscape, the South African government and its partners remain committed to making tourism an enterprise for everyone. The government’s efforts to rejuvenate the industry aim to build a prosperous sector that benefits all citizens.