It is important that we as an industry speak as one on this topic, and as often as possible, to the outside world, our overseas tour operators, and our customers. The positive message that must go out is this – that the South African tourism industry is very much open for business. We are all conducting business as usual, obviously with a special regard to client safety. The current unrest has been very localised and restricted to very limited and specific areas; mainstream tourism areas (including all airports) have NOT been affected, and it is very unlikely they will be either. It is still safe to visit South Africa, with our vast array of attractions, wildlife and scenic beauty; and we all stand ready to welcome our guests with open arms. There is no need for anyone to cancel any tourism activity. It would be sensible for us all to proceed cautiously, and keep informed on a daily basis regarding developments. In particular it would be sensible to proceed with caution with regard to township activities, and be sensitive to local developments. Whilst this xenophobia violence is a serious crisis, there is quite simply no need for blind panic and total doom and gloom in the tourism sector. And you can be confident in advising your partners and customers accordingly. Please actively go out and communicate this as widely as possible.
It would be a huge tragedy if all the hard work that has gone into marketing South Africa in recent years was to go to waste. Tourism interest in South Africa is definitely on the up, as evidenced by a great Indaba last week.
Michael Tatalias CEO - Southern African Tourist Services Association