LAST week I attended the MEC’s Provincial Tourism Committee meeting in far-flung Ulundi during which certain trends and challenges were cited during the presentations and discussions.
There was consensus that although our last season’s performances showed a positive outcome and N3 traffic volumes went up from 1.9 million in 2014/15 to 2.2 million in 2015/16, there are challenges that confront our tourism industry.
Tourism KwaZulu-Natal (TKZN) has a stated commitment to grow our domestic market share to 45% in the next few years, which is good news for us on the South Coast as we are largely dependent on South Africans for our holiday and leisure revenues.
The MEC stated quite clearly that the economic situation is of concern and we, as a province, need to collectively address the challenge by ensuring that our tourism cake is not nibbled at by other destinations in the country.
The CEO of TKZN also indicated that with the rand exchange rates being weakened against other major global currencies, our overseas marketing spend is also under pressure and for this reason TKZN (and ourselves) will look at ways of securing more free publicity as opposed to paid for advertising campaigns.
Interestingly TKZN suggested that its visitor information centres (Vic) have experienced a drop of 50% of feet through their doors which is an indication that people using the internet and cellphones are accessing information online rather than going to a Vic.
We are fully aware of this trend and for this reason we have conducted an analysis of our website and will soon be transforming it to allow information access from cellphones.
Furthermore, we will also complete a marketing action plan review to ensure that our promotional activity aligns to present tourism trends and our desired markets and interest niches. It is imperative that we regularly analyse the market scenarios otherwise we will miss the proverbial target.
Shortly we are to promote at the Meetings Africa and Beeld Holiday Show in Gauteng at which we will engage with our prospective customers and the travel media - that face-to-face interaction is, in my opinion, crucial in converting prospects to come here and retain those loyal regulars to our district.
Busy days here in our now humid paradise.