- Tourism Minister Mmamoloko Kubayi-Ngubane appealed to the tourism sector to adjust the pricing of tourist offerings to make it more affordable and accessible for South Africans.
- She encouraged South Africans to explore the country.
- The department said it was dedicated to helping the industry get back on its feet by driving marketing initiatives and investing in the improvement of facilities.
September is known as Tourism Month in South Africa. Since the opening of the sector, Tourism Minister Mmamoloko Kubayi-Ngubane has been on a countrywide tour in an effort to showcase the nation's local offerings and to promote domestic tourism to South Africans.
Kubayi-Ngubane's stop in the Eastern Cape highlighted the diverse options the Tsitsikamma area has, from one of the world's highest bungee jumping at Bloukrans Bridge to the Garden Route's Storm River National Park.
She told members of the media that the department was committed to investing in the marketing of local attractions and destinations to re-energise the tourism industry. This after an almost six-month hiatus due to the Covid-19 pandemic.
"All these months we have been sitting in front of screens. We are tired of them. The walls are just becoming too much. We need to go outside and go have fun. You don't need to go outside of South Africa because we have everything you need in this country," the minister said.
Kubayi-Ngubane said she would lead from the front to assure South Africans that it was safe for them to leave their homes.
"That is why I'm going across the country as the minister to ensure that what we have given as directions are enforced. Also, we haven't properly marketed the diversity of our products and tourism so everyone knows that in every province there are full tourism packages that you can enjoy," she said.
The country moved to Alert Level 1 of the Covid-19 lockdown earlier this week and international travellers will finally be allowed to enter the country from 1 October.
South Africa will allow travel to and from all African countries and people from low-risk countries will be granted access to the country. Travellers will have to present, on arrival, the result of a negative coronavirus test that is less than 72 hours old. If they cannot do so, they will be required to remain in mandatory quarantine at their own cost.
This gives the sector much-needed relief, according to the minister.
"The list of low-risk countries is based on WHO (World Health Organisation) categorisation of which countries are high risk in terms of the number of infections per number of citizens and that's how it is gauged. We have been assured that there will be an assessment of the countries every two weeks. This means that it saves our festive season. People who want to come for Christmas have time to book," she said.
"We know that if there are quarantine requirements for people coming, those travellers won't come. Only those presenting symptoms will be required to quarantine or those who have no proof when they land," Kubayi-Ngubane said.
The minister also expressed hope that conferencing activities would resume.
"We need conferencing to start because people in areas such as catering are out of jobs and battling. Event planners are battling. Those who have put your weddings on hold, please resume your wedding plans. Do get married because the wedding planners haven't had any income for the past few months," she said.
"My appeal to South Africans is that they spare a thought for those who have had nothing since March. We desperately need to save the sector, especially because this industry is dominated by women who are often mothers who need to send children to school," she said.
She also appealed to the industry to make an effort to set affordable prices for local tourist attractions and activities.
"South Africans are saying that some of the facilities are unaffordable for us. Can we put our heads together and find a solution so that South Africans can enjoy this country? Can we remember the local communities as part of our marketing strategy? If they experience the attractions, they will be our mouthpiece in advertising. Word-of-mouth advertising is very strong," she said.
We know this was a long read and your time is precious. Did you know you can now listen to articles? Subscribe to News24 for access to this exciting feature and more.