We’ve all been there, that moment when the boss pitches a 'winning' project plan. But then reality strikes because you’re going to be the one down in the deep trenches making it happen.
This was Sisa Ntshona’s reality after President Cyril Ramaphosa’s said in his State of the Nation Address that the country intends to increase its tourist numbers to 21-million per annum by 2030.
The target is linked to South African Tourism’s five-in-five strategy - the first in line with this 2030 big guns target: "Increasing international tourists by 4-million and domestic travellers by 1-million in a five-year period ending in 2021".
WATCH: Hanekom: A third of those who visit SA for the first time at a conference, come back for a holiday
Speaking to Traveller24 at Meetings Africa 2019, Ntshona is candid about the task set for his organisation.
“So the president effectively doubled my targets on national television, but it is what it is, we’ll take it.”
Regarding the curve ball of Indaba being moved a week earlier due to the national elections, he says they had to consult quickly with the industry with the aim of giving them certainty. Indaba will now take place on 2 to 4 May.
Ntshona acknowledges this won’t please everybody, but with South Africa in its 25th year of freedom he says "ultimately democracy wins”.
He is convinced that “Tourism is the lever we want to pull", when it comes to South Africa's economic growth.
Ntshona says South Africa as a country has actively taken the decision to “wean ourselves off mineral resources and mining. Tourism is one way to diversify the economy”.
“In order for that to happen we need the entire ecosystem to fall in line. Everything from visas, to airline connectivity, to the number of beds in the country is important. And the president is leading this charge, and that excites us."
Currently tourism contributes 3% GDP to the Economy – with South Africa only receiving 1% of the global tourism share.
Ntshona says there is obvious room for improvement.
“So you’ll see some positive changes that are about to happen and we’ve got a lot of capacity, so I’m really excited about the future.”
Some of the plans cooked up at the recent Meetings Africa event include joint bids for major conferences to be hosted on the continent.
"Instead of going for once off bids, we can say for the next 10 years, between six or five African countries we can actually host these conferences on a rotation basis."
Ntshona believes this is especially true with Africa-based issues.
READ: World Wildlife Day: 'Wildlife conferences should not take place anywhere else except on the continent of Africa'
“Wildlife is an example, there is absolutely no reason why wildlife conferences should happen outside of the continent, when actually it relates to the continent itself," he states.
In 2017 alone, an estimated R71bn revenue was generated through MICE. This translated into an estimated R115bn contribution to SA’s overall GDP. The multiplier effect means this helped create an estimated 250 000 jobs.
According to the South Africa International Meetings 2014/2015/2016 National Contribution Study the average conference delegate will spend 7 days in South Africa in total and approximately 5 days attending the conference. Added to that a third of those who visit South Africa for the first time for a conference return for a holiday, bringing with them their family and friends.
The Joburg Convention Bureau estimated that the average business traveller spends R6 400 per day.
Overall, this appears to be the sharp-arrow approach that SA Tourism is taking in order to ensure Africa earns a lion’s share of the MICE sector, and indirectly nets more visitors to the country and continent as a whole.
Ntshona remains convince that as a country South Africa is able to lend its experience and exposure as a top MICE destination to parts of the continent that need it most, in order to grow.
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