South Africans have been encouraged to explore the country by travelling to areas they have never visited to experience the wonders offered by the country.
To soften the price of travelling, South African Tourism is embarking on a campaign that will see would-be travellers getting offers at discounted rates.
This was disclosed by the Department of Tourism during the media launch of the 2018 Tourism Month in Tsitsikamma in the Eastern Cape.
The theme this year, as decided by the United Nations’ World Tourism Organisation, is ‘Digital Transformation’. South Africa’s World Tourism Day will be celebrated in Umtata on 27 September.
South African Tourism chief executive Sisa Ntshona said the campaign is meant to encourage locals to travel and explore the country. The campaign will run between 24 - 30 September.
“We want the country to go gaga in booking and buying deals. We have engaged with travel partners to ensure that the offers entice locals to travel to all corners of the country,” Ntshona said.
He challenged South Africans to be adventurous in discovering new places and experiences, as the country is a “wonderland of unforgettable experiences, just a Sho’t Left away’.
“We are driving domestic tourism. It is one of our focus areas. We are competing for a share of disposable income in a… stressed… economy. We are driving around making sure that domestic tourism is accessible,” he said.
Speaking on this year’s theme, Tourism Minister Derek Hanekom said it was critical for the industry to embrace technology if it was to evolve.
“You have a camera (on the cell phone) and with it, you can take pictures anywhere in the world in real-time and send it to thousands of people instantly all over the world. That’s quite amazing. Would you have believed that 20 years ago? Never. It would have been science fiction. That’s what we can do today with technology,” he said.
However, the Minister said, technology should not replace traditional marketing.
“Human contact cannot be substituted... I don’t want to go the beach and be on top of a robot - I want to be on a real horse. I want to be taken there by a real person and not a robot. We are humans and we long for human contact.”
He emphasised that tourism was about people and places that make for unbelievable experiences.
Hanekom said it was coincidental that this year’s Tourism Day launch was held in the Eastern Cape during the centenary year of former President Nelson Mandela, who was born in the province.
“What a beautiful accident because what better place could we have Tourism Month in than the Eastern Cape in this special year?”
Hanekom told reporters one of the department’s priorities was the transformation of the tourism sector.
“We don’t want only to see the sector growing -- and we see a lot of potential for growth -- but we want to see inclusive growth. [We don’t want] jobs only but we also [want to] create opportunities for new entrants.”
The Department of Tourism announced a transformation fund a few weeks ago. - SAnews.gov.za