Pretoria, 03 February 2023
The Tourism Business Council of South Africa (TBCSA) has learnt of a proposal by our colleagues at South African Tourism (SAT) to sponsor the English premier league team, Tottenham Hotspur, to the tune of almost R1 billion. The TBCSA would like to place it on record that it was not consulted nor attended any meetings where plans for this proposal were discussed. As the umbrella body of private-sector tourism, the TBCSA has a memorandum of understanding with SAT which obliges us to meet and discuss matters related to the tourism recovery and Annual Performance Plan (APP). We believe that this could have served as a perfect platform for us as a sector to be consulted. The private sector through TBCSA urged South African Tourism to take in our inputs at their annual performance plan when we met at our conference in Sun City, North West, in September 2022.
As a sector, we are against this proposal, and we believe that this proposal does not consider where our growth for the tourism sector is going to come from to enable us to reach our target of 21 million arrivals by 2030. Our focus should be on what we as a sector specified as our growth markets: China and India. “We need to work with the trade on the ground in those markets to stimulate demand there and we need more airline direct connectivity between South Africa and those two markets”, said TBCSA CEO, Tshifhiwa Tshivhengwa.
As the private sector tourism, we also believe that the country should not be spending a lump sum of money on one project, especially in the context of the operating environment in South Africa. Currently, South African tourism businesses are hobbled by the energy crisis which has increased input costs. Part of this money should be spent on protecting the supply side of tourism as part of the tourism recovery strategy. Tshivhengwa further states that “it makes no sense to spend this huge amount of money to stimulate demand in one project when businesses are struggling on the ground with no electricity. We could use this money differently to reinvigorate the industry while simultaneously boosting demand”.
The TBCSA urges SAT to cancel this proposal and create an opportunity for a meaningful engagement toward our shared goals. We believe that robust dialogue about the marketing of South Africa as a preferred destination should not occur without the buy-in of the private sector and industry at large. The buy-in will ensure that we as South Africans hunt as a pack for the greater good of our tourism industry.