With domestic tourism already having contributed 76% of South Africa’s total tourism volume and R20-billion to the economy in 2011, Tourism Minister Marthinus van Schalkwyk has unveiled a strategy to grow domestic tourism even further.
The South African Domestic Tourism Growth Strategy (DTGS), launched in Cape Town recently, follows on from the National Tourism Sector Strategy (NTSS) announced in 2011.
Under the NTSS, a target to achieve 54-million domestic trips by 2020 has been set and it anticipates domestic tourism accounting for 60% of the sector’s overall contribution to gross domestic product (GDP), which will be an increase of about 5% on the 2009 figure. In total, the Department of Tourism has committed, within the NTSS, to creating 225 000 jobs and increasing tourism’s economic contribution to GDP to R499-billion in the year 2020 through both domestic and foreign tourism.
The DTGS, which has been developed over a period of eight months and followed an extensive consultative process, considers any forms of domestic travel, be it for leisure, business or visiting of friends and relatives, to fall under domestic tourism and thus strategies to increase these travel activities have been developed.
Research undertaken by SA Tourism in 2011 highlights the following reasons why only 44% of the total adult population in the country travel: cannot afford to travel (32%), no reason to take a trip (20%), time constraints (17%), no income or unemployed (11%) and dislike for travelling (10%).
As presented by Van Schalkwyk, the 2011 domestic tourism statistics show that 13.9-million adult South Africans travelled in 2011, an increase of 3% on 2010. The new strategy will seek to increase the number to 18-million by 2020, with 50% being holiday travellers. The number of bed nights in 2020 is targeted to increase by 34% over the 2009 figure of 128.4-million.
Visiting friends and relatives is still the main purpose of taking a domestic trip in South Africa, and Gauteng and KwaZulu-Natal continue to have the highest percentages of domestic travellers.
At present, KwaZulu-Natal and the Western Cape draw the largest share of holiday trips at 25% and 24% respectively. The average duration of a domestic trip in 2011 was 4.4 days and the average spend for a domestic trip (taking into account all forms of travel) was R780, increasing from R710 in 2010.
However, the total number of domestic trips taken dropped from 29.7-million in 2010 to 26.4-million in 2011, though this decrease can be attributed in the most part to the 2010 FIFA World Cup. The DTGS targets increasing the total number of domestic trips to 40-million in 2015 before reaching the 54-million NTSS target in 2020.
No Travel Culture
Overall, the challenge, according to the DTGS, is that there is a lack of a travel culture among South Africans, especially among previously disadvantaged communities. The domestic tourism industry also suffers from limited product development and diversification, which includes a lack of geographical spread and seasonality.
Following on from this, the strategic objectives of the DTGS are clear, according to Van Schalkwyk. “This strategy aims to increase domestic tourism revenue, to increase domestic tourism volumes, to enhance measures and efforts aimed at addressing seasonality, to promote an equitable geographic spread, but also to entrench a culture of tourism among all South Africans,” he says.
To address the first two objectives of increasing domestic tourism revenue and volumes, the DTGS outlines a plan to, among other things, focus on existing tourist attractions and products in order to effectively increase the use of existing facilities and activities in the country, such as museums, art galleries and sports events. This would include conducting an audit of the current tourism products and services to ascertain adequate supply for the various segments of the domestic market and also to facilitate the development of effective maintenance plans for existing tourism infrastructure under government’s administration.
Currently, there are a number of examples of poorly developed and maintained government-funded tourist attractions that remain sorely underused resources.
The development and packaging of affordable domestic products for local consumers is also seen as a key activity in the DTGS to increase domestic tourism revenue and volumes.
Domestic business tourism aimed at increasing domestic tourism revenue is also a key target. A database of major national business events is being established, while a framework of pre- and post-tours for business tourism events is being developed.
Research conducted by SA Tourism has demonstrated that business tourism is vital as it generates more value than all other domestic categories in terms of average spend per trip. During 2011, a domestic business tourist spent about R2 500 on average for a trip compared to R1 600 that was spent for a holiday trip. The DTGS aims to have business tourism contributing 17% of the overall tourism revenue in 2020.
Meeting the third objective of addressing the problem of the lack of geographic spread of domestic tourism and seasonality, the DTGS proposes further auditing of existing government-owned resorts, parks and nature reserves in less-visited regions that may not be optimally used. The strategy also targets creating special activities for less-visited areas and low seasons. This will include providing support for at least one ‘mega’ event in each province (focusing on the less-visited provinces) during low season, which could take the form of a music festival, sporting or cultural event, or religious gathering. This should be coupled with the development of pre- and post-event-specific offerings, including packages, to increase the length of stay within the less-visited areas.
Finally, increasing the level of the culture of tourism and travel among South Africans will be achieved by trying to, among other things, promote tourism values and attitudes through awareness campaigns, professionalising tour guiding, and developing a ‘back to our roots’ campaign aimed at revital- ising culture and traditions, which will target urban residents.
As part of the DTGS, the SA Tourism domestic marketing campaign, Vaya Mzansi, has been launched simultan-eously. This campaign, which uses the tagline ‘Whatever you are looking for, it’s right here in South Africa’, is a vehicle of the DTGS.
It specifically targets increasing domestic tourism among five consumer segments: ‘spontaneous budget explorers’, who are generally young and impulsively go for short breaks away with friends; ‘new-horizon families’, who are typically professionals older than 35, who go on holiday to reward themselves for hard work; ‘high-life enthusiasts’, who are successful individuals who travel to boost their social status and seek out luxury destinations; ‘seasoned leisure travellers’, who fall into the 25- to 45-year age range and have a culture of travel; and ‘well-to-do Mzansi families’, who use travel to escape the stress of city living.
SA Tourism CEO Thulani Nzima adds: “The Minister has always challenged us as the industry . . . to ensure that domestic tourism becomes the backbone of our tourism. This is the trend all over the world. You see countries . . . a lot of countries, like Brazil, the US and China ensuring that domestic tourism becomes an important and integral part of their tourism. We are taking this as the new vision and making sure we can deliver on that.”
Research conducted by SA Tourism has found that an emotional connection to travel plays a central role when consumers make their travel choices, and, as such, the campaign intends to draw on this connection. “[The] key driver of the new domestic tourism campaign is to invest in yourself and your relationship with family, friends and loved ones,” explains Van Schalkwyk.
The local campaign is expected not only to stimulate domestic leisure travel, but also to contribute to increasing foreign tourism by creating a nation of enthusiastic and passionate tourists who become promoters of their own country’s attractions. “This campaign will make sure that it gets South Africans excited – it will get South Africans talking about exploring in South Africa,” says Nzima.
The domestic marketing campaign will not only be an advertising campaign, but will also include suggestions of events and activities, recommendations of destinations from South Africans themselves, and holiday packages. The campaign and strategy will require closer working relationships between the Tourism Ministry, SA Tourism and industry stakeholders, including travel agents, airlines and hotel groups.
Van Schalkwyk says the new DTGS and the domestic marketing campaign have taken into account that con- sumers are increasingly cautious about how they spend their money and says that the sector intends to offer “exceptional value” to address this. “The strategy . . . centres on innovation, stakeholder participation, and the offering of authentic, affordable experiences and packages that meet the needs of all potential local travellers,” he says.
“Our message about the benefits of domestic tourism is relevant to all South Africans. The beauty of this message is its simplicity: go out there and enjoy in your own backyard what millions of people over the world dream of experiencing.”