KwaZulu Natal and Durban left out of SA Tourism Marketing.
Our beautiful city and province have always been in the shadows of other major South African cities. From major events, conferencing and music concerts, we are often overlooked and Durban is left out.
Both KwaZulu-Natal government and eThekwini municipality are unhappy about marketing agency South African Tourism’s efforts to market the province globally.
The agency is accused of favouring “certain destinations” in South Africa and neglecting to market others with potential, such as KwaZulu-Natal.
South Africa is a popular destination for business travellers, who spend three times more than their leisure counterparts, and the government is on a drive to secure more international conferences. A national tourism sector strategy was launched in 2011 to ensure the sector created more jobs and revenue. Tourism is seen as one of the six job drivers of the government’s New Growth Path plan.
Economic development, tourism and environmental affairs MEC Michael Mabuyakhulu told tourism industry stakeholders last week the province planned to “go it alone” and market itself directly to attract international events such as conferences, sports events and tourists.
Mr Mabuyakhulu said the province needed to continue to focus on organising business events, as this was an area in which it excelled and it could not rely on tourism marketing agencies such as South African Tourism to do its bidding. During the past few years, KwaZulu-Natal had won more than 40 bids, representing an economic benefit of R2bn, or R500m a year.
If the province wanted to continue to position itself as a “mega event” destination, it needed to establish a support fund with the aid of the private sector, Mr Mabuyakhulu said. He is holding meetings with tourism industry stakeholders to explain the province’s plan to start collecting a 10% hospitality levy from April next year, and to allay industry fears. His department would set up a committee comprising government officials and representatives of the tourism industry to plan how the levy would work, he said.It was also establishing a body to collect the levy and use it to market the province internationally.
Philip Sithole, head of tourism and business development in eThekwini, echoed Mr Mabuyakhulu’ s sentiments on Sunday, saying South African Tourism had often “let down the region” when it came to marketing it internationally.
“My view is clear on this. South African Tourism has favoured other destinations over us and ploughed its resources to market those destinations at our expense at a time when we get lacklustre support for agencies designed to market our destinations.
“We have been forced to do the marketing ourselves, and this is very expensive and therefore there is a need to get support from the private sector because it is private businesses that benefit when we host these events,” Mr Sithole said.
KwaZulu-Natal Bed and Breakfast Association chairwoman Heather Hunter said her organisation was satisfied with the explanations given by Mr Mabuyakhulu.
“But we need … to get the full details about the levy. We got a sense that the province was not happy with South African Tourism’s marketing strategy and they want to do it on their own.”
South African Tourism spokeswoman Thandiwe Mathibela would not comment on the province’s unhappiness with the organisation’s strategy. She said CEO Thulani Nzima would rather discuss the matter with KwaZulu-Natal officials.