There is an old African proverb that says, “If you want to go fast, go alone – if you want to go far, go together.” Right now the travel and tourism industries need to focus less on the speed of our recovery than on recovering well for the long term, so I believe the collective efforts of business travellers and tourists, internationally and locally will be what returns us to our former glory and stability. It is not just about the travel industry either, because for the travel industry to thrive our country needs to recover well, and that too takes a collective effort. In a world continually facing financial, political and social upheaval we need to work together, combining all our skills and efforts, to remain focused on a future that is moulded by a positive view and a “working as a team” approach.
Having said that, what can our industry do to help our country? Well, I see such a positive impact that the numbers of inbound business and leisure travellers are making already that I can confidently say that tourism and business travel have far-reaching benefits for S.A – so let’s look at some of these…
Business and the economy
Recently there have been a few industry-based traveller buying events (some for the first time since 2019) which have brought many buyers into South Africa. These events included WTM Africa and the travel Indaba in April the latter of which, it is estimated, generated in the region of R20 million! More recently, in May our New Frontiers Tourism team participated in the “We Are Africa” forum and I was delighted by the interest they have attracted and the buyers that are flocking in to see what we have to offer.
Property companies, S.A tourism and many others have had a chance to showcase what we have and, more than people just being able to see what we have to offer, these platforms have emphasised that we are once again clearly “open for business!” It warms my heart after the isolation of the pandemic to see people wanting to connect to people and travel again and these events were a great opportunity for travel agents to see first-hand that it’s safe to come to South Africa so they, in turn, can send their clients.
Our communities and wildlife
The positive spin of these kinds of events, the opening up of tourism again and the support of our game lodges in particular are vital not only to all the hundreds of thousands of people in the travel and hospitality industries but to the ongoing well-being of the communities that surround our wildlife preservation areas and our precious wildlife. These places are a massive part of every facet of tourism in South Africa so in my next couple of articles I will be detailing and unpacking the significance of this. Watch this space!
Go fast or go far? What matters is that we go forward – together!
Another thing for which Africa is renowned is the “spirit of Ubuntu.” In essence, it is that “I exist because you do” and it suggests that as a country, or as a global community, we can go much further with each other. Rapidly rising fuel prices and the recent grounding again of Comair, are just two examples of the many challenges that the travel and tourism industries have to continually face. Some may be bumps in the road and others, like COVID, might be mountains to climb, but as long as we never stop and just roll over, we will always be able to make a difference to the economy and communities of our country, and remain as effective custodians of our treasured wildlife. Stay safe, stay connected and keep the wanderlust alive!LIDIA FOLLI
CHIEF EXECUTIVE OFFICER