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Great success for collaborative Garden Route Workshop in Cape Town

The Garden Route took centre stage in Cape Town this week as 36 tourism experiences, accommodation establishments and DMOs descended on the Mother City to share their tourism offering with over 200 consultants and guides who attended the Garden Route Workshop.

Held at Moyo Kirstenbosch, the #GardenRouteRocks extravaganza was overwhelmingly successful, said Peter Dros, SATSA Garden Route chair and Sales and Marketing Director of Fancourt.

“There was a great sense of camaraderie on the day and greater than expected attendance and interest. It just goes to show what can be achieved when private sector and public sector collaborate. Our thanks must go to SATSA, Wesgro, Knysna Tourism and Oudtshoorn & De Rust Tourism for their support in making these kinds of initiatives happen,” said Dros.

Ypie Kingma from Destination Garden Route, who attended the event, praised the initiative and said the response from the trade-in attendance had been very positive.

“With different bodies like SATSA, Wesgro and some of the local tourism offices working together, it made it possible for smaller operators to present their products to the trade. With many smaller tour operators attending, we were able to highlight some of the ‘off-the-beaten-track establishments and activities which will give them a chance to differentiate themselves from the well-established operators.”

Kingma highlighted the “strong urge to collaborate” among Garden Route products. “We are aligning ourselves so that everybody can benefit.”

The workshop was very productive for Tsitsikamma Canopy Tour, said Lee-Marque Jansen. “I met new operators, negotiated a new contract and was able to rekindle relationships with those who are no longer on the Garden Route. Coming together as the Garden Route to do destination marketing was great,” he said.

This is not the first or last Destination Garden Route initiative aimed at aligning the efforts of tourism experiences and product to market the region. A mega fam that was held successfully at the end of last year proved so successful that it is being hosted again this year.

“We are partnering with Wesgro again to bring consultants to the Garden Route in September so that we can showcase the diversity of experience and product that this region has to offer,” confirmed Dros.

SATSA is a firm believer in products and experiences within regions collaborating for the greater good to access markets, said David Frost CEO SATSA. “The Garden Route is a fine example of how the private sector industry can work together with government stakeholders to grow the tourism pie for the benefit of everyone in the region.

“Through collaboration and aligning our marketing efforts, regions can reach their markets in a far more powerful way than working in siloes. It is my hope that the Garden Route example will inspire other regions of South Africa to align their efforts and market their destination collaboratively,” concluded Frost.

For more information about the Garden Route initiative, or to interview David Frost, please email natalia@bigambitions.co.za or call 083 449 4334.

SATSA to join coordinated TBCSA response on negative perceptions about South Africa

SATSA has confirmed it is adding its voice to a coordinated campaign by the Tourism Business Council of South Africa (TBCSA) to address global negative reports about Destination South Africa that have recently appeared in the international media.

The campaign will include both a crisis communication and reputation management across multiple platforms, including media and social media, and will seek to collaborate with and coordinate the responses of stakeholders within the private sector through their representative associations, government stakeholders, key media and influencers.

Says David Frost, CEO SATSA: “There are clear and present threats to the industry both external, such as the growing flight shaming movement, as well as ongoing issues around crime and civil unrest inside South Africa.

“These were highlighted at the conference and were discussed in a SATSA board meeting last Friday. The SATSA board took a firm position on these issues around getting a permanent capacitated resource to coordinate the one message. We have addressed it at the highest level at the TBCSA,” says David.

It is important to note that while negative reports are being raised currently, SATSA has been liaising with its members and relevant stakeholders about many of these on an ongoing basis. We are grateful to our members who bring our attention to the various ongoing threats.

“It is critical, however, that we deal with the negative perceptions about South Africa in a coordinated single-channeled manner, providing proactive communications and employing a ‘one-voice’ approach, under one umbrella – the Tourism Business Council of South Africa. I can assure members that we have taken the necessary steps to do so and are confident that the TBCSA is dealing with it with urgency.”

Details of the campaign will be launched imminently. Rest assured that it is our top priority and thank you, as always, for your ongoing support.

SATSA Conference hosts emerging businesses

The Southern African Tourism Services Association (SATSA) and South African Tourism (SA Tourism) ensured that there will be a strong focus on, and participation by emerging businesses at this year’s SATSA Conference.

The SATSA Conference, hosted in partnership with SA Tourism, took place at the Wild Coast Sun from 9-11 July 2019. Thirty-eight emerging businesses from all nine provinces were represented at the SATSA conference and were selected from the Department of Tourism’s TIP (Tourism Incentive) programme.

The conference is one of the tourism industry’s biggest networking platforms and ensures that small enterprises who are just entering the sector have direct exposure to the Tourism industry, its issues, and the opportunity to network with experienced industry players.

SA Tourism supported the travel and accommodation costs for the emerging businesses to attend the event, while SATSA will sponsored the conference attendance fee.

Not only was it the association’s 50th-year celebration, but attendees were treated to a fresh new look with a more modular format, interesting insights from thought leaders and, most of all, a whole new approach to networking. It was also the first year that members of South African Youth Travel Confederation (SAYTC), who recently merged with SATSA, was in attendance.

This means even greater potential to network, learn and engage with potential business partners for the emerging businesses attending.

“The tourism industry in South Africa needs to be an inclusive industry for all,” commented SA Tourism CEO, Sthembiso Dlamini. “The SATSA conference is crucial to exposing our emerging businesses to the larger tourism industry and having them in attendance speaks to one of our goals of transforming the industry so that historically disadvantaged South Africans benefit from the sector as well,” added Dlamini.

“The growth of the Tourism Industry is strongly reliant on the development and knowledge expansion of the SME sector,” says SATSA CEO David Frost. “Growing SMEs’ businesses is how we introduce diversity and variety into our sector which helps ensure we keep offering our visitors the selection of unique tourism products and services they seek.”

To this end, SATSA has been active in similar initiatives such as the Limpopo High Flyers’ Programme which it piloted along with Limpopo Tourism.

The Programme identified thirteen relevant provincial products and assisted them with their tourism and marketing development needs to ensure a successful introduction to a large and established trade.

SATSA and SA Tourism lead carbon offsetting initiative

SATSA and South African Tourism (SA Tourism) have launched a carbon offsetting initiative to create awareness about the need to reduce the tourism industry’s carbon footprint.

The initiative comes as South Africa seeks proactively to focus on sustainability as a destination, with the ‘flight shaming’ movement growing exponentially in influence across the world.

SATSA Eastern Cape Deputy Chair and Owner of Wild Lubanzi Backpackers, Aidan Lawrence, told delegates at SATSA’s 2019 conference this week that the tourism industry needs to be planting millions of Spekboom immediately to offset carbon emissions.

Spekboom has amazing carbon-offsetting properties and can sequester more than 4 tons of carbon dioxide per year per hectare planted, making it more effective than the Amazon rainforest at removing carbon dioxide from the atmosphere.

“In Scandinavia, there are projects aimed at shaming people who don’t offset the carbon emissions they cause when travelling,” said Lawrence.

“The thought was to create awareness in South Africa about the need to reduce carbon footprint from inbound flights. Spekboom, with its miraculous carbon-offsetting properties, was the perfect solution. We hope this initiative will plant the seed on how South African tourism businesses can get practically involved in their own carbon-offset programmes,” added Lawrence.

To create awareness about the Spekboom initiative, each delegate at this year’s SATSA conference received a cutting of the plant, which is an indigenous succulent found in the Eastern Cape. SATSA and SA Tourism handed out 600 Spekboom cuttings and will be planting another 5000 plants over the next few months. That will be the mother plant stock to roll out millions of new plants.

“South Africa is the first country in the world to directly address the impact on our environment of flights in and out of our country in the context of flight shaming. There is no limit! You can partner with us to offset all your carbon emissions. If a company wants 500 000 plants, the Spekboom initiative will commit to finding a solution for this to happen,” added Lawrence.

SATSA CEO David Frost says the organisation, as the voice of inbound tourism, has a responsibility to encourage South African businesses to focus on sustainable development. “Globally the Tourism industry accounts for 8% of the world’s greenhouse gas emissions. Each business must take responsibility for its carbon footprint and the impact it has on the environment.”

“Responsible and sustainable tourism is vital for a thriving tourism industry and we all have to play our part in the offsetting of carbon emissions,” comments Darryl Erasmus, Chief Quality Assurance Officer at SA Tourism. “The initiative by SATSA and SA Tourism to plant 5000 Spekboom is further indication of our commitment to ensuring a sustainable tourism industry. While this is just a start, we need to ensure that we do more for the environment.”

Tourism stakeholders and other interested parties are invited to showcase their Spekboom projects on SATSA’s social media and the newly created Spekboom Facebook page – www.facebook.com/spekboom.info.

Tourism needs to react to the realities of 2019 or risk losing Africa’s wildlife

“If my children were dying from starvation, I would be first in line to poach, and if we’re honest, so would any of us.”

Colin Bell, co-founder and director of Natural Selection, stressed the importance of including communities in the tourism value chain at the SATSA Conference today. “Tourism simply doesn’t react to the realities of 2019,” he said.

Bell referred to violent reactions from the communities towards tourism industry stakeholders, such as the shooting of Kenyan Conservationist Kuki Gallman. He explained that 200 000 animals are poached every year in the Serengeti as a result of communities being excluded. In South Africa, in the Nduma Game Reserves, the communities are growing mielies in the heart of the game reserve.

These tragedies are happening because as a tourism industry we fail to bring communities into the value chain in scale and with heart. “We have to change and at speed,” he urged.

The Tourism Conservation Fund was created to achieve inclusive change. The organisation seeks to protect and promote conservation areas by investing in adjacent communities and create sustainable businesses.

Paul Zille, CEO of the Tourism Conservation Fund, explained that unfortunately, the poor communities living in the vicinity of conservation areas have currently every incentive to become part of the poaching chain as they see it as the only way to benefit from wildlife.

“We need to build economic linkages between wildlife tourism and the communities,” he urged. “By creating impact and uplifting communities, we can protect wildlife. Currently, we focus our attention on protecting wildlife and ignore communities. If we continue to do this, we’ll fail.”

Bell referred to Rwanda as the perfect example. In 1994, Mountain Gorillas were on the brink of extinction in the country. Today, there are almost too many mountain gorillas. Why? Because each person in Rwanda sees gorillas as their asset.

Said Bell: “It can be done but it’s a collaborative effort. Make the communities part of your commitment.”

To get involved please visit https://tourismconservationfund.org/ or email info@tcfund.org.za to get involved.

WTM Africa launches inaugural Travel & Tourism Awards

Reed Exhibitions has launched its WTM Africa Travel & Tourism Awards for the first time, celebrating the success of national, regional and city tourist boards and recognising outstanding private sector companies and individuals across the African continent.

The 12 awards are free to enter and will be judged by an independent panel of expert judges. Ranging from “Most Compelling National Tourism Board Story” to “Best Responsible Tourism Story”, the award winners will be announced at WTM Africa in Cape Town on 6 April 2020.

Megan Oberholzer, Reed Exhibitions Portfolio General Manager – Travel, Tourism & Sports Reed Exhibitions, explains that the winners of the WTM Africa Travel & Tourism Awards will be entered alongside the winners of WTM shows around the world – the best of which will be acknowledged at a glittering gala event at WTM in London as the world’s best. To register your interest, visit https://africa.wtm.com/Awards1/

To view the WTM Africa Travel & Tourism Awards video, click here.

SATSA Conference delegates welcome visa news

The news that seven countries have been added to the visa waiver list for travel to South Africa, was received with applause and cheering from delegates at the SATSA Conference in KZN on July 10th.

Home Affairs Minister Dr Aaron Motsoaledi announced the news during the budget vote speech in parliament on Wednesday. The seven countries are:

  • New Zealand
  • The United Arab Emirates
  • Ghana
  • Saudi Arabia
  • Cuba
  • Qatar
  • Sao Tome and Principe

Immigration hurdles and other administrative red tape are a self-imposed issue that hinder tourism growth, TBCSA CEO Tshifhiwa Tshivhengwa told delegates.

Tshivhengwa mentioned it is time for the country to fast-track the implementation of e-visas. The Department has already started testing the system at Lanseria airport with the testing phase ending in October this year at which point the system will be rolled out incrementally.

“Why are we afraid of tourism? We need to use logic to get more tourists to come to the country,” said Tshivhengwa. “We spend too much time talking about things we can fix quickly and easily.”

Also view Darryl Erasmus’ full presentation here.

‘Hunting in Packs’ – Australian Tourism Export Council shares lessons from Downunder

Finding ways to make it easier to visit Australia has driven a collective approach from all levels of government and the private sector, contributing to the country’s success as a tourism destination.

That’s the word from Australian Tourism Export Council (ATEC) Managing Director Peter Shelley who addressed delegates attending SATSA’s conference on the Wild Coast this week.

“Everybody is working on the same page with the same purpose. For any tourism marketing campaign, we have a core theme and variations thereof for each region. We hunt in packs, all singing the same message, and this has largely been the recipe for our success in our current tourism strategy,” explained Shelley.

The equivalent to SATSA in Australia, ATEC is a private-sector tourism body which rebranded to include the term ‘export’ and has since benefited from increased government attention as a result. “Tourism is the second-largest export industry in Australia.”

Shelley described how Australia’s tourism strategy was government-led and industry-supported. “We started with a collaborative discussion where every level of government was brought into the plan. The States’ and Regions’ plans were a mirror of the national plan. We were aligned in our vision and that has been our success.”

As a result, the destination achieved A$45bn in tourism revenue and nine million international visitors in 2018, from just $70bn in 2009.

The Tourism 2020 Strategy was based on several success factors, including a whole-of-government approach, a collaboration between the industry and government, improved funding for bigger, better campaigns, infrastructure that drives demand, reduced taxes and changes, and effective training.

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Despite the huge growth seen out of markets like China, Shelley highlighted a number of challenges for Australia as it enters the planning stages of its next strategy. To cut through the ‘sea of sameness’ in tourism marketing, Australia is thinking out the box with such innovative and collaborative campaigns as the Dundee Campaign, which leverages the caché of Crocodile Dundee and Paul Hogan in the US market.

“We have generated 14,500 news articles from the campaign with an Advertising Value Equivalent of A$85m and it has certainly been successful in raising awareness about the destination,” said Shelley.

Australia is also promoting signature experiences as part of its brand strategy, including Wildlife Journeys, Cultural Attractions, Ultimate Winery Experiences and Great Golf Courses.

This is all aimed at countering the consumer challenges of limited knowledge about Australia’s offering outside of iconic experiences and the low urgency nature of the destination. “Australia perceived as a once-in-a-lifetime destination which can be put off for another day” – a similar challenge to what South Africa faces.

The key to Australia’s success, concluded Shelley, was that Australia’s tourism sector were all rowing in the same boat towards a goal. “A collaborative industry and an engaged government leads to a fruitful partnership and progress,” he said.

Digital marketing in tourism – insights from #SATSA19

Unique content is the “central ingredient” behind creating Inspiration and Aspiration when it comes to digital marketing in the tourism sector.

That’s according to David Ryan, founder of Rhino Africa, who told SATSA Conference delegates that properly distributed content was one of the critical components of a holistic digital marketing strategy.

“Our Digital Strategy has always centered around generating Inspiration and Aspiration for both Destinations and Product around Africa. Without Inspiration or Aspiration there would be no search interest and that, at the end of the day, determines your global competitiveness. Content defines the brand and companies need to put that brand and their client at the centre of their strategy,” said Ryan.

According to Ryan, profit and conversions are not goals, they are consequences of your marketing. “Digital marketing, first and foremost, is an investment in your brand and clients. It’s the mechanism that creates Inspiration and Aspiration that ultimately serve your goals.”

Like any investment – in client and brand – ROI is not instantaneous and therefore requires commitment, he said. “It shows returns over time and if my experience is anything to go by, budget plenty for school fees because you are part of the digital evolution.”

One of the biggest challenges of developing a digital strategy, he said, is it requires a big investment. “Campaigns and channels don’t start performing immediately. Much like the traditional world where relationships take investment and nurturing, so does a digital marketing strategy.”

Companies now are facing more competition than ever in the advertising space. This makes it more important to adopt a holistic marketing strategy and be present on all relevant platforms, not just prioritising one.

In 2004, Rhino Africa was one of fewer than 1,000 Advertisers with Google and there was only one channel to advertise on. “You could afford to be less purposeful with Ad Spend,” says Ryan.

Today with over four million advertisers, competition is tough, and advertising is expensive. “To put that into perspective, five years ago we would pay around $45 for a luxury Kruger enquiry. Today, that same enquiry would cost you in excess of $300.”

With 4 million web users and limited marketing spend, never before has it been more necessary to ensure your marketing is seen by the right target audience.

Search has been taking a hit. Competition is increasing and voice searches are taking away volume. This increases the cost of advertising on specific keywords that clients are already bidding on. The only way companies can respond to lowering their cost of acquisition is to continuously test and innovate for new advertising channels.

In terms of trends in the digital marketing, Ryan said mobile, social and video (especially stories) are hot at the moment. “Keep your website and landing page load times fast, make sure they’re easy to navigate on mobile and keep things simple,” he said.

“Instagram Stories have grown to 400 million users, while Facebook Stories topped 300 million users in 2019 and they launched in 2016!”

In the words of Ryan: “There is no future in the past. Business, as usual, is dead. Drive change or be driven by change.”

To view David’s full presentation, please click here.