Media challenged to promote tourism within SADC region

Thursday, May 23, 2024

Various stakeholders in the tourism sector have challenged media to use their space to promote tourism in the Southern African Development Community (SADC) Region.

The call was made during a virtual panel discussion on tourism media opportunities in the SADC Region, hosted by the Government Communication and Information System (GCIS), in collaboration with the Department of Tourism and Brand South Africa, on Wednesday.

The panel discussion, which coincides with Africa Month, forms part of the series of conversations that will be facilitated by GCIS to showcase some of the success stories within the SADC Region.

Tourism Business Council CEO, Tshifhiwa Tshivhengwa, said while the numbers may currently look good in terms of the tourists travelling to South Africa from the region and the continent, given the effects of COVID-19, there is a need to do more to bring young people in the region back into the toursim industry.

“Our job should be to make sure the region itself is attractive to international tourists. It is important to ensure that as a region, we get together and pull together our resources.

“To be attractive to the world, we need our journalists within the region and within various countries to cover tourism in way that is appealing to the international markets, in a way that it promotes travelling from those countries to South Africa, and in a way that will increase the level of tourists that are looking into South Africa,” Tshivhengwa said.

Tshivhengwa said journalists should look at how the region is building in terms of various aspects in tourism development, including issues of socio-economic development, the impact of tourism on communities, and how tourism is helping with early childhood development in various communities by way of donations and other means.

“We need to look for those things and cover them as well. There are many projects that are being done by government to uplift communities close to tourism attractions. We need to keep in mind that... it is our responsibility to promote [our region].

“Look for those stories that may not be popular in terms of selling advertising space, so that we can put those out there because as more people come in, more jobs will be created and the more prosperous the region is going to be,” Tshivhenga said.

GCIS Acting Director-General, Nomonde Mnukwa said South Africa is committed to promote and achieve the objectives of the SADC institution, and the region remains a foreign policy priority for South Africa to achieve regional development and integration.

Mnukwa said the tourism sector is considered as one of the cornerstones of the SADC regional economy, and the sector directly contributes around US$19.4 billion of the total SADC GDP.

“The tourism sector directly sustained around 2.5 million jobs in the region and a total of more than 6.3 million jobs depend on tourism, which includes direct and indirect jobs in the tourism sector. 

"Travel and tourism is an important driver for job creation across the world, and our government is committed to partner with the stakeholders to invest in projects that work for people, the planet and prosperity,” Mnukwa said.

Mnukwa also echoed the sentiment that media plays a critical role in promoting tourism opportunities in the SADC region, noting that the sector has the potential to provide opportunities for all people, build resilience, and accelerate climate action and greater sustainability for the planet.

According to Statistics SA, tourism continues to recover from the COVID-19 pandemic levels and already contributes around 3.7% to the country’s GDP. –