It’s time for backbone

2015-07-23 06:01

SOUTH African Tourism Update recently published some startling news. Comparison between the first quarter 2014 and 2015 suggest that international tourism to South Africa has dropped by some seven percent whereas globally it has increased by four percent.

Our consumer confidence index is the lowest for 14 years and there are indications that our province’s domestic tourism market share is under pressure.

South Africans are feeling the financial pinch with the result that families either take fewer holiday breaks or even none at all, and that sends us a challenge we all have to meet.

Business gurus have over the decades reported that when the financial chips are down many companies and brand managers reduce their marketing and promotional spend- much to their peril. They advocate that products and services should sustain or even grow their marketing presence that to come through lulled economic periods.

Tourism is a highly competitive business not only between hospitality and service providers but destinations themselves. We are no exception and when there is shrinkage in market size (due to personal and family budget curbs) the battle for the tourism rand really intensifies.

We at Ugu South Coast Tourism are not shying away from our marketing and promotional mandate. Our approach in these lean times is to show backbone and aggressively advertise and promote our district. In fact initial indicators are that we have exceeded our promotional, media and publicity targets for this year and we will continue to invest in such programmes for the benefit of our local economy.

In development curricula, there is the model that speaks of the spiral towards poverty. If we talk and act within the confines of negativity, that disconcerting spiral comes into play. I would like to think that our tourism sector has every intention of breaking up any signs of that regression.

Part of the mitigation process lies in extended destination marketing and promotion, common belief in the merits of our destination, hyped up and creative own business marketing, broadening access to new market segments and the principle of meeting or bettering the experiential promise.

Tourism consultants often suggest a marketing spend for existing businesses of between seven and nine percent of targeted turnover (for start-up businesses approximately 12% to 15%). I wonder how many tourism enterprises do that, especially when the chase for the consumer buck is during these pressured times very much a la “dog eat dog”.

We believe in the fill-the-glass principle (not half anything) and will strive to ensure that our great destination has the spine to successfully meet challenges and greet our markets.

SOUTH AFRICANS ARE FEELING THE FINANCIAL PINCH WITH THE RESULT THAT FAMILIES EITHER TAKE FEWER HOLIDAY BREAKS OR EVEN NONE AT ALL, AND THAT SENDS US A CHALLENGE WE ALL HAVE TO MEET

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