What a SWOT analysis of SA travel and tourism looks like right now!

I don’t often give feedback on previously written articles but concerning one I wrote recently on the positive impact of new scanning technologies in travel, I just have to share that when travelling to London recently they had these new scanners at security checkpoints and for the first time I didn’t need to take anything out of my bag. I kept my shoes and belt on and just walked through. What a time saver this is and from the time I arrived to the time at the airport to clearing security, it took 15 minutes! 

So, some good news to start but now down to the business at hand. I was reading with some interest various articles on the state of the tourism industry in most parts of the world and it appears that although a whopping 80% plus countries have returned to pre-covid figures there are still some countries like Canada that are struggling to regain their tourism status. On the flip side of the coin, India has just placed the largest order in history for new aircraft and is positively booming. This got me thinking about our own status in SA and as we do SWOT analysis exercises in business I thought it may be interesting to have a look at what a SWOT analysis of SA travel and tourism looks like right now…

For the uninitiated, the term SWOT stands for Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities and Threats and as a glass-half-full person, I see and tend to deal with the empty half first before we get down to the good stuff.

Weaknesses and Threats

Fortunately, at least in my view, our weaknesses and threats are far fewer than our strengths are. The weaknesses that we struggle with right now in SA are essentially security and public transport. Security issues are certainly not confined to SA as they are a concern in many parts of the world, but we have developed a bit of a bad reputation for it and we need to not only work with our security force and private security firms to improve the situation, but also make it clear to visitors where it is safe to be and where it is not.

Regarding public transport, this too is pretty much out of the hands of travel and tourism, but we can at least try to provide more private forms of available transport to tourists that don’t cost an arm and a leg. The hop-on hop-off red buses that operate so well in Cape Town and now in parts of Johannesburg are one example of this. 

What possibly threatens us as an industry in the future? Well, something that s only partially in our control but a great concern is climate change and how it may affect us in the future, not only changing our own currently glorious weather but which could become a threat if countries to the North themselves start to experience warmer climates. Watch this space though, as I’ll be going into this in some depth in my next article. 

Secondly, I believe that we need to keep a close eye on territories to the North of us that also have the weather and the wildlife that we do but who are making great inroads into taking a large market share of international tourism to Africa. We need to vigorously market ourselves as a superior destination offering a much wider choice of experiences – and that is where we begin to get into our great strengths…

Strengths and Opportunities

Not only does this great melting pot that we have dubbed “the Rainbow Nation” have massive cultural diversity but we can genuinely offer any traveller, regardless of their preferences, a wider range of experiences than that which any other country can offer. 

Our natural, scenic beauty, the thrilling and serene bush experiences, hiking in the berg and exploring forests, from vast desolate deserts to vibrant world-class cities, to winelands with the finest cuisine, to pristine beaches and thrill a minute experiences for the adrenalin junkies – there’s just nothing we don’t offer. Add to that our low exchange rate, making this one of the best value-for-money destinations in the world for most foreign tourists and of course that glorious weather, which means one need only choose the right spot and you can be somewhere warm 365 days a year! 

So, given all these strengths and understanding our weaknesses, what are the opportunities we have to strive to be even better? It is often said that success is when preparation meets opportunity and I believe that if we look to more collaboration and preparation for the hosting of mega events like global conferences and mega sporting events (research shows that these are massive money spinners for tourism) South Africa’s major cities have the potential to become prominent destinations for these. We also tend to focus on Western and Europe Markets, but I believe there is an opportunity to expose SA to a wider global market and with the help of SA tourism include other territories like Australia and South America as a part of our target market. We can boast some of the best holidays from a sustainability viewpoint too, like our famous wildlife experiences so let’s promote these. Finally – Let’s never forget that the key to sustained tourism is in travellers returning again and again. Just a smile and a helping hand from any one of us can ensure that a traveller will be back, so we all have the opportunity to make SA travel and tourism great!



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