South African Tourism branding and marketing, promotion of natural resources, health and medical tourism, diversity: SA Tourism briefing


07 September 2009
Chairperson: Mr D Gumede (ANC)
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Meeting Summary

South African Tourism gave a presentation to the Committee on issues of branding and marketing, promotion of natural resources, health and medical tourism and diversity. It also presented its background, history and work, and noted that it had a significant budget of around R700 million, of which about R500 million was spent on marketing.

Members commented that the entity was doing a good job of marketing South Africa as a major tourist route. Members however, did have concerns that not enough had been done towards marketing the 2010 World Cup event being hosted in Africa as opposed to anywhere else in the world. Another concern was that rural areas were not known to visitors, nor was there enough emphasis on the unique cultural aspect of people living in rural areas. In terms of small business and tourism, some members felt that more assistance was needed to help these businesses prosper. There was some discussion on the creation of jobs through tourism, and members wanted more information on how that could be measured, improved and exploited fully. Networking and linkages throughout the three tiers of government was, in the view of South Africa Tourism, a vital aspect of successful tour operating. There was a favourable response by SAT to market destinations despite any challenges that may exist, but it was stressed that the development of an area remained a competency of the municipality. A highly successful method of marketing was the use of brand ambassadors. Members were interested to know how this kind of marketing would be used going forward beyond the 2010 World Cup.  Some of Members’ questions relating to careers would need to be directed to the Department.

Meeting report

South African Tourism (SAT) presentation on tourism issues
The Chairperson noted that September was Tourism Month and formed part of Heritage Month. Government must explore ways to enhance efforts towards making tourism “bigger and better” as it was confident about the future of tourism. However, he noted that there was no overarching mandate from which all towns, cities and provinces should be sending out the same message. There was sometimes a lack of convergence and coordination in sending out the same marketing message with regard to, for example, the promotion of natural resources and national parks.

Ms Didi Moyle, Acting Chief Executive Officer, South African Tourism, gave an introduction and sketched the background to the work that South African Tourism (SAT) did.

Ms Roshene Singh, Chief Marketing Officer, SAT, dealt with the ways in which South Africa was being marketed, and tourism’s contribution to gross domestic product (GDP).

Mr Phumi Dhlomo, Regional Director: Africa, SAT, presented the Strategy Plan for the domestic market. He outlined a number of graphs, pictures and flow charts illustrating how creative ideas were being driven across consumer and trade platforms. He described who the global media partners were and how local marketing was carried out. Domestic travel provided significant value to the South African Economy, had untapped potential for growth and provided the base load for international markets. He indicated that 46.5% of South Africans undertook travel each year. Domestic travelers generated 33 million trips in 2008, compared to 9.6 million generated by foreign arrivals. The objectives of SAT were to increase expenditure through promoting more leisure trips and encouraging visitors to stay longer, reduce seasonality, improve the geographical spread and increase volume. The Sho’t Left campaign was launched six years ago to promote the “quick stop” type of travel.

Ms Nomasonto Ndlovu, Global Manager: Business Tourism, SAT, dealt with business tourism, tabling indications of how this was done, through ways such as magazines, branding, locker branding in aircraft, maps, and event branding. Examples of pages from websites were tabled. The branding in South Africa, Kenya, Nigeria, Southern African Democratic Community, the Americas, Australia, the Far East and several European countries was tabled. Business tourism covered trips undertaken with the purpose of attending a conference, meeting, exhibition, event or as part of an incentive, and SAT focused on attracting the international market. Business tourism currently contributed around 7% of total foreign arrivals. The direct spend per trip was about R5 600. South Africa accounted for 43% of meetings held in Africa, although it was noted that Africa as a continent had only about 3% to 5% of market share overall. SAT worked with international organizations and had acquired Meetings Africa as a platform to grow business tourism. Meetings were generally divided into three categories: government, corporate and Association or NGO or academic meetings. The target segments were described, and the strategy was outlined. Finally, a list of upcoming meetings and events from 2010 to 2016 was tabled.

The Chairperson said that Government was able to bring certain resources to the table, and to support where there may be gaps.

Ms C Zikalala (IFP) commented that a good management team had been introduced to the Committee today. She was pleased that the industry was growing and creating jobs, and thanked SAT for the invitation to next year’s Indaba in Durban. She wanted to know why the marketing of rural areas was costly, and asked for further details.

Ms V Bam-Mugwanya (ANC) asked what was meant by “inadvisability” of rural tourism and why it was deemed expensive. She cited the example of the Eastern Cape coastline, which was very beautiful yet was not being promoted. She asked whether the reason could be that promoting such a destination was a provincial competency.

Ms Moyle responded that the rural issue concerned only the fact that tourism in South Africa would not be marketed to, for example, rural Chinese. It was more an issue of identifying where the consumers of tourism were located than about tourism in the rural areas of South Africa. Ms Singh said that a problem identified with the stretch of coastline mentioned by Ms Bam-Mugwanya was that tourist accommodation there was in a poor state. Tourists were more likely to pass through than to stay because of this, although there was some backpacker’s accommodation that catered only to the backpacker market. SAT was willing to promote the destination but the development of the area suitable for tourism remained a competency of the municipalities.

Ms Zikalala wanted to know why the Indaba was always held in Durban, and not in any other city.

Ms Moyle responded that the venue and city of Durban were used for the annual Indaba because the floor space was ideal for the purpose of exhibitions, and the tender had been won for consecutive years now by the Durban International Convention Centre because this venue fulfilled the specifications of the tender.

Ms Zikalala commented that the “Sho’t Left” campaign seemed to have waned a little after the initial excitement and momentum.

Ms Bam-Mugwanya wanted clarity on the term “domestic tourism” in regard to the 2010 Soccer World Cup. She quoted statistics that 70% of visitors were from Africa, and of the 9 million visitors South Africa had received last year, 7 million had arrived by land. She asked why these statistics had not been picked up in the presentation. She further needed to know what impact there would be on the industry with the 30% price hike by Airports Company South Africa (ACSA) next year.

Ms Moyle agreed that value and volume were critical and inter-connected. The statistics used were from the Department of Home Affairs, which could now differentiate between arrivals of locals, and tourists. However she noted that same-day visitors were quite important, especially to the retail industry. She would forward more of this information to the Committee, including statistics compiled by the Iraj Abedian consultancy, which found that tourism also made a vital contribution to other industries such as agriculture. It was also clear that if tourism did not achieve growth, there would be a knock-on effect to sectors such as the building industry.

Ms Bam-Mugwana and Ms M Shinn (DA) asked about the grading system. They enquired whether up-and-coming entrepreneurs could be assisted to make the grading. They particularly referred to the fact that a need for accommodation existed currently in the lower end of the market, and this implied that those who had not made the grading would possibly benefit in this sector.

Mr B Zulu (ANC) reiterated that rural tourism needed to be marketed. He asked whether tourism marketing and awareness of the beauty of our country was being done in schools.

Mr Dhlomo replied that as part of the planning by the Department of Tourism in Tourism Month, an event was scheduled for 27 September in the Northern Cape. There would be a television programme highlighting the importance of travel within our own country, and this would prepare South Africans to welcome the expected visitors in 2010.

Mr Zulu put it to SAT that, while he was aware that the roads were not in good condition and that there was a poor supply of electricity in his area of KwaZulu-Natal, SAT would do well to pay a visit to the area in order to market the cultural aspect. He asked whether the traditions and culture of the various communities and people of South Africa were being fully marketed as a tourist attraction. He also commented that South Africans needed to practise more hospitality and promote a sense of ubuntu with visitors to their area.

Ms Moyle replied that with the upgrading of roads and infrastructure leading up to 2010, a lasting legacy would be left that would benefit local travel to such areas.

Mr Zulu said that crime was no worse in our country than in any other country in the world.

Mr G Krumbock (DA) asked whether SAT was sufficiently tapping into the opportunity to market tourism amongst the nations and countries still in the process of qualifying for the Soccer World Cup, irrespective of whether they would be coming to South Africa. This would allow those countries to share in the experience of the event, and by so doing, to be exposed to the tourism potential of South Africa.

Ms Singh responded that SAT considered Africa very important, and that countries such as Angola and Democratic Republic of Congo were part of their core markets. Amongst the other countries being reached by the international campaign, using television networks, were Australia, Japan, Korea and the Netherlands. The campaign also aired on Supersport, by means of road shows, during major cricket and soccer events and during the British Lions tour. Other methods being used included information at airports, advertising and marketing of fan parks and stadiums, as well as media responses to SAT.

Mr Krumbock asked whether the figures depicting growth in relation to the number of jobs created were reliable. He felt that the figures for growth were increasing but did not necessarily indicate an increase in job creation. He wanted to find out whether there was a clearer method to establish this outcome. He asked whether a definitive study had been done on what the performance in contribution to GDP benchmark should be, so that South Africa could compare itself and therefore know what should be achieved on an international scale.

Ms Moyle replied that the Business Tourism Council supplied some information, which she could forward to the Committee.

Ms Shinn asked about whether there was potential to exploit the cruise ship business in South Africa.

Ms Moyle said that Portnet had done a study to establish the potential, and although there was some activity in this business, the potential was not huge, mainly because of poor weather.

Ms Shinn asked whether SAT would seek out brand ambassadors from the visitors to the 2010 Soccer World Cup and how this would be done.

Ms M Njobe (COPE) asked how SAT would rise to the challenge of developing a culture of travel and touring places of interest among South Africans, especially young people and church-going people. She felt that despite the television and radio advertising on tourism awareness, a large sector of South Africans was not being reached.

Ms Njobe also raised the role of provinces and municipalities, saying that their role needed to be clarified.

Ms Njobe said, with regard to the budget, that Small, Medium and Micro Enterprises (SMMEs) found it difficult and expensive to market their tourism businesses. In light of this, she wanted to know what percentage of the total budget was devoted to marketing.

Ms Moyle stressed that linkages must be forged between SMMEs and the three tiers of government, and that it should be initiated by the SMMEs. Of the total budget of R700 million, R500 million was spent towards marketing. This must be seen in contrast to Australia, which received double this budget.

Ms Zikalala had an enquiry about tour guides.

Ms Moyle responded that the Department of Tourism would commence a careers expo this month in schools. However, this query, as well as the registration of tour guides, would be better addressed by the Department of Tourism, instead of SAT.

Ms Moyle commented that some of the answers were being provided immediately, but some time was needed to prepare full responses to other questions. Many sectors could be assisted by government and she would discuss these with the Chairperson outside of today’s meeting.

The Chairperson commended SAT for their excellent presentation.

The meeting adjourned.


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