Pretoria: In a highly competitive international landscape South Africa had to pull out all the stops to ensure it remained relevant, says Tourism Minister Marthinus van Schalkwyk.
Speaking at the Industry-Government Leadership Meeting in Pretoria on Thursday, the minister said that with consumers being spoilt for choice the challenge was to ensure that South Africa remained relevant, exciting and inspiring in the buying cycle.
In a more competitive international landscape, South Africa had to work much harder to compete for its ‘share of voice’ with big country brands such as the USA, Australia and India as the country defends its brand positioning via global and local channels, he added.
South Africa recently reported excellent results for the first few months of 2012, Van Schalkwyk noted.
Tourist arrivals to the country increased by an overall 10.5% year-on-year during the first quarter, and overseas arrivals by nearly 18%.
Total income for the accommodation industry for the second quarter of 2012 increased by 11.2%, and the number of stay unit nights sold for the second quarter of 2012 increased by 8.2%, both compared to the same period in 2011.
He noted that the decision to establish a solid foothold and invest early in emerging markets had proved to be spot on
In the first quarter of 2012, Brazil recorded year-on-year growth of over 70% and India 23%.
A measure of our success would be if some of these new ‘investment’ markets were to grow into ‘core’ markets in years to come, he added.
“However, we cannot be starry-eyed about emerging markets. We need to understand their needs even better. While early-mover advantages should be exploited, growth cannot be allowed to outstrip the development of appropriate supply-side offering…Otherwise, growth will not be underpinned by high and sustainable repeat-visitor rates, the minister noted.
Closer to home, Van Schalkwyk said there was massive potential in harnessing the huge growth prospects from the air markets, especially as South African Airways (SAA) continues to expand airlift on the continent.
He noted that by 2030, about half of all the people on African continent will be living in urban areas, with access to airports and other transport infrastructure.
However, the African market was not just a market for the future. Middle-class households on the continent already outnumber those in major emerging markets such as India.
“…with a fast-growing and rapidly urbanising middle class and half a billion people potentially connected to tourist destinations and travel arrangements through mobile devices, I believe Africa is a market on the move,” he said
Many were investing retained earnings from the South African market towards expansion into Africa which was a healthy development, he said.
With regards to domestic tourism, his department was committed to ensuring that its domestic tourism strategy and campaign delivered measurable results.
“…this will only be achievable if we succeed in building a partnership between government and the private sector,” he added. – SAnews.gov.za