Amos ‘Fish’ Mahlalela, South Africa’s Deputy Minister of Tourism, began his address to the National Assembly today (May 19) by confirming that the ministry was moving to implement the Tourism Sector Recovery Plan to put a dent in the pandemic-induced 70% loss of arrivals and earnings for South Africa.
Among others, objectives outlined included a focus on growing domestic travel, prioritising the MICE industry, growing local SMMEs, and job creation.
“While we focus on growing leisure visitor numbers stimulation through three domestic marketing campaigns, we will also focus on developing leads for a pipeline of business events for our destination,” Mahlalela explained, noting that the business events sector of South Africa had made significant strides with the resumption of hosting of physical events, albeit in a limited capacity.
The South African National Convention Bureau will actively seek to develop leads for future business events to ensure that South Africa develops and maintains a bid pipeline for continued growth of the event sector. One of the key strategies to maintain South Africa’s position as the number-one business events destination in Africa and the Middle East, and to be truly competitive on the international stage, is the enhanced focus on business development support.
SA Tourism, through its National Association Project, encourages local associations and federations to rotate their national meetings and conferences across different parts of South Africa; create bidding opportunities for villages, towns and small dorpies (tiny towns); and assist their development of MICE infrastructure by bidding for National Association meetings and conferences.
A focus on SMMEs and job creation
“For this financial year and beyond, a specific focus will be on reviewing the grading system to include emerging product and accommodation of SMMEs. A key component of our strategy is to ensure that demand is met by adequate, diverse and unique tourism products and services to entice and excite visitors to our shores,” Mahlalela added.
“To further accelerate the destination enhancement work, we will expand the Maintenance Programme to include several provincial parks as part of the Presidential Employment Stimulus. These prioritised parks have been identified in consultation with relevant authorities in all provinces.”
Total cumulative employment created by the maintenance programme was 857 with an expenditure of R82m (€4.9m) by mid-March.
The youth skills development programme will also be implemented nationwide to combat unemployment and consequent social strife.