It is ironic that as we are celebrating our National Heritage our national rugby team is playing in the Rugby World Cup and I don’t think I’ve seen a better representation of the wonderful diversity of skills and cultures that make up this great melting pot that we call the “Rainbow Nation”. From the shortest to the tallest, the largest to the smallest, this team combines sheer brawn and lightning-fast speed to produce a force to be reckoned with. And, it is captained by someone that is greatly admired on a global scale.
I, for one, could not be prouder that Siya Kolisi will be named a brand ambassador for SA Tourism and as a “Daily Southern and East African Tourism Update” article said he is “the first of several advocates who will form part of a new global marketing campaign from SA Tourism, that look to celebrate the country’s excellence by profiling and partnering with South Africans who are making waves on the global stage in their various fields, including sports, arts and culture, academia etcetera”.
Collaboration to solve a major tourism issue
This leads me to talk about another great partnership that is taking place, which again represents how vital collaboration between Tourism, the S.A. government and the private sector can be in solving important travel and tourism issues. It is one that I wrote about as one of our weaknesses when doing a SWAT analysis on the current state of tourism and that is, of course, security (or lack of it) for visiting travellers. The good news is that all the key role players are working together to solve this issue with a couple of interesting initiatives. After a recent National Tourism Safety Forum meeting on Tuesday, August 29th, our Tourism Minister – Patricia de Lille, spoke about a progressive solution to ensure the safety of foreign visitors.
According to the same aforementioned publication, “De Lille said her department had invested R174 million in the current financial year to train 2 300 tourism monitors who will increase visibility at identified tourist sites”. These monitors, who will undergo accredited training and five days of additional training with SAPS in various police techniques, will be deployed to hotspots across the country commencing late October ahead of our summer tourist season. De Lille explained that “The key responsibilities of the appointed Tourism Monitors include patrolling within the identified attractions and sites, raising tourism awareness and providing information to tourists and reporting any crime incidents to SAPS and other relevant enforcement agencies”.
Technology to the forefront again
Further, Minister de Lille, opened the SECURA Traveller Operations Centre (STOC) at the end of last month. The STOC, implemented in partnership with Business Against Crime South Africa, functions as the central nervous system, orchestrating and harmonising safety response mechanisms and Traveller Support services for distressed tourists.
Travellers (available to both local and international travellers) can utilise the response services available through the STOC, when using the Secura traveller. It will allow both the monitors and visitors who have downloaded it to connect to affordable medical care and emergency service providers in an emergency. The app will be backed by an operations centre to ensure response times can be reduced to as little as a few minutes.
Better late than never
Let’s face it, in many ways all this is overdue as Travel and Tourism is a massive money spinner for the country and hence can go a long way to solving some of our economic and unemployment challenges. I am grateful, however, that we have finally accomplished what South Africans always seem to find a way to do, even if it takes a little time, and that is to extract the very best of what each of us has to offer, throw it into that great melting pot and combine it to create not only a solution but something uniquely South African. This is what keeps international travellers coming back for more, even if they are wincing as we chant in unison – “Go Bokke!”
CHIEF EXECUTIVE OFFICER