Market Destination South Africa, says MEC

Sunday, May 8, 2011

Durban - The message that "Destination South Africa" must come first on the international platform has been applauded by key drivers in the tourism sector.

This message courtesy of MEC for Economic and Tourism development in KwaZulu-Natal, Mike Mabuyakhulu, was delivered at the Indaba Breakfast held at the Hilton Hotel on Saturday.

"We need to have alignment on both a provincial and national level... All public entities must use one brand," said Mabuyakhulu, who was talking about branding and marketing South Africa.

The MEC said instead of marketing specific areas in South Africa internationally, it's more important that emphasis is placed on what the country can offer, without losing the essence of all nine provinces.

Apart, from putting the "collective interest" of the country first, it is also important to market South Africa for its other valuable aspects.

CEO of Tourism KZN, Ndabo Khoza, said the country's other areas like golf, weddings and honeymoons, avi (bird viewing), religious, railway and cruise tourism must be included in the South African packages.

He said the country has amazing beaches but this hardly features in marketing campaigns, and called for the expansion of this programme.

Stefano Vigoriti, Operations Director at MSC Starlight Cruises said cruise tourism is the fastest growing area worldwide and figures in South African reflect this trend. Over the past six months, 100 000 passengers boarded the Sinfonia, one of the MSC cruise ships.

Khoza said marketing budgets must be utilised on targeting activities that people enjoy doing. Research in South Africa has shown that nightlife, shopping, natural attractions, beaches featured high on the list.

Mabuyakhulu added that the growth of Indaba shouldn't only benefit South Africa but the rest of the continent. Ministers from other African countries were also present at the breakfast.

The MEC also joked that KwaZulu-Natal must now become the home of the Indaba. Last year, Durban won the bid to host the event for the next five years.