Given the stellar performance of the inbound sector over the past 18 months, we were tempted to go with … “As Good as it Gets?” for this year’s conference theme. On reflection, it would not have been a great byline. We firmly believe we can do better and the success of the past period has in large part been due to factors outside our control such as the exchange rate and geo-political shifts in the attractiveness of mega-destinations such as Turkey. What will be interesting though is to see if we can maintain the high growth rates.
The theme we have chosen for this year’s SATSA Conference is far more pertinent to the current discourse in our political economy – “Transforming for Inclusive Growth” and this topic will be one of the main discussion sessions. We really need to unpack what this means in a sector where a significant majority of businesses are small owner-managed entities and our customers are international tourists that have a choice of over 200 destinations worldwide to choose from. Given this context, it is crucial that we come to some consensus on what “inclusive growth” means for us and how this will pan out. Importantly, we would seek to include government into the notion of “transformation”. Public-private partnerships to drive transformation are needed and, of course, there are key areas where we do not get the requisite support from the state and a programme to “transform” key bottlenecks should be part of the overall transformation discussion.
We are proud to partner with South African Tourism this year and our conference theme gives concrete expression to the I/We Do Tourism Campaign recently launched by them at Indaba.
The Conference opens with a low-key food and wine evening hosted by Spier. A relaxed opportunity to catch up with mates and colleagues, kindly sponsored again by WTM Africa. The first day of the Conference begins on Thursday 17th August with a key note address by the Minister of Tourism.
Based on feedback from last year’s event at White River, we have dispensed with a formal sit down gala dinner evening. Instead we are in for a township treat in Langa – great venue, music and food – showcasing and enjoying the best of that community. It will be fun filled evening – being co-ordinated by one of our SATSA members in the Western Cape – Sabu Siyaka of Ubizio Tours and Events.
In keeping with our style of the last three years, the conference programme will be a series of panel discussions. We have cut these from ten to eight this year and allowed for more time (each session will last 75 minutes). We are still inviting SATSA members to forward topics for suggestion. Furthermore if you have suggestions for people you would like to see tackle any issue on the panel – please let us know.
Some of the suggested topics include:
- Animal interactions – what should the guidelines and process be for a level playing field?
- The role of marketing in tourism growth
- Emerging markets: Middle East, India and South East Asia – Pointers and Lessons
- Air Access – what role for the tourism trade?
- Reaching capacity in key areas – what is the product development strategy to spread tourism?
- Social media and inbound tourism
The Annual SATSA AGM will take place as the first order of business on Friday 18th August from 08h30 – 10h00. The Conference will close at 16h45 on Friday 18th August.