Trevor Noah: South African Tourism Sets the Record Straight

Trevor Noah
Johannesburg, September 8, 2023

The South African Tourism (SA Tourism) has issued a press statement to clear the air around its involvement with the Tourism Business Council of South Africa (TBCSA) and internationally-acclaimed media personality and comedian Trevor Noah. While it is aware of the engagements between TBCSA and Trevor Noah, to promote the country, SA Tourism has clarified that it will not be contributing financially towards the initiative.

SA Tourism consistently engages with the greater tourism industry on various aspects of destination marketing, such as overall marketing strategies, market insights and latest traveller trends. However, this particular initiative involving Trevor Noah is spearheaded by the private tourism sector through TBCSA.

Trevor Noah
Photo Credit by GQ, Shaniqwa Jarvis, & Mobolaji Dawodu

Meanwhile, a statement on the Trevor Noah matter from TBCSA which is signed by the CEO Tshifhiwa Tshivhengwa reads:

The Tourism Business Council of South Africa (TBCSA) has been in talks with renowned comedian Trevor Noah and other personalities, to collaborate with us on campaigns that will create a wider presence for destination South Africa to international markets. This is in line with the sector’s ambition to grow tourism arrivals in the country to 15.6 million over the next decade.

If and when the parties ultimately agree on a common strategy, the deal will be wholly funded by TBCSA.

To buttress the position of SA Tourism, Tourism Minister Patricia de Lille has also made it clear that the bill would be footed by the TBCSA, and that no government money would be spent on the venture, estimated to cost R33m for 5-minute tourism promo ad.

In a related development, the 2023 Tourism Business Council of South Africa Leadership Conference, underway in Sun City in the North West will end today 8 September 2023. In its second year, the conference has brought together stakeholders from the public and private sectors, as well as dignitaries, guests, and delegates who are contributors to the local and global tourism industry value chain. The theme for this year’s TBCSA Leadership Conference is Tourism: The Engine for Growth. We have retained the same theme from last year to emphasize our unwavering mission to be the driver of economic growth and job creation in South Africa.

Tourism is the one sector of the economy that has consistently shown resilience as the country recovers from the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic and deals with the effects of local and global financial headwinds. On the local front, slow economic growth, the rising cost of living, and persistent load-shedding among others continue to pose a challenge to the revival and recovery of the industry.

Results of the latest TBCSA’s Tourism Business Index (TBI) reflect the industry’s challenges for the first half of 2023. They show that the below-normal business performance was driven largely by the energy crisis (load-shedding). The accommodation sector has been the worst affected, with high input costs caused by load shedding, as well as inflation negatively impacting business performance.

A Glimmer of Hope

Some of these challenges have presented an opportunity for the Tourism industry to be agile and innovative. In response to the persistent rotational power cuts, for instance, many of the stakeholders in our sector have transitioned to renewable energy sources. In finding a solution to the load-shedding problem using renewable energy sources, the tourism ecosystem is now contributing meaningfully to the sustainability of the environment.

The discussions and deliberations on the state of Tourism in South Africa are taking place within the context of positive growth forecasts for the sector. The outlook for the remainder of 2023 is positive, with near “normal” performance expected. Data from Statistics South Africa show that in the first six months of the year (January to July 2023), foreign tourism arrivals for the period exceeded 2019 and even 2018 levels for the same period. The strong recovery is driven mainly by our African market. In comparison, the recovery of our high-spending overseas market is lagging in 2019 (14% down) and 2018 (16% down) numbers.

“We remain hopeful that the strong foreign arrivals recovery will continue as positive sentiment returns to our industry. Feedback from the industry on future booking levels is optimistic as strong overseas arrivals as well as improved domestic demand, are anticipated for the second half of 2023,” says TBCSA CEO Tshifhiwa Tshivhengwa.

The industry’s mission to curate memorable experiences for visitors to South Africa remains a top priority. Through the Leadership Conference, all stakeholders will have an opportunity to find each other in achieving common national goals. In his opening address, TBCSA Board Chair Blacky Komani emphasized the importance of the relationship between the private and public sectors. “We want our partners in government to know that our sector is well-organised, and we are here to ask the public sector to co-create solutions with us. As a sector, we have the necessary skills and resources to work with them to solve the challenges we face as an industry” says Komani.

What needs to happen?

To accelerate the recovery of our industry, specifically the overseas market, tourism stakeholders have indicated that the sector needs significant investment into destination marketing in our key source markets as well as addressing growing concerns around safety and security.

In partnership with public service partners, we need to develop a fully automated world-class e-visa system with improved airport e-infrastructure. The easing of red tape in the issuing of visas can help boost arrivals and improve the ease of travel for our visitors from the continent and overseas. The conversation on the waiving of visas for visitors from source markets is being advanced and actioned as thus.

During a Q&A session on Day 1 of the Leadership Conference, Home Affairs Minister Dr. Aaron Motsoaledi shared that his department is working to expand to e-visa system to include other visas such as study, business travel and eventually travelling groups. He says Home Affairs is aware of the backlogs in the issuing of visas, and that work is being done to address them.

“We want as many people as people to come into the country. But my priority is to ensure that it is the right kind of people who are allowed into South Africa. Our responsibility is to ensure that undesirable people do not enter the country,” Motsoaledi explains.

It is also our collective duty to improve safety and security in key tourist routes and areas. Public and private partnerships can radically improve the security of our tourists. In achieving our goals, it is important to ensure that communities are stakeholders in the Tourism value chain, to ensure solid collaborations in the areas of security and sustainability.

Tourism Minister Patricia De Lille has re-emphasized the government’s commitment to break the barriers that inhibit the growth and potential of tourism in South Africa. Minister De Lille says her department has been working tirelessly with industry stakeholders to ease the backlogs in the issuing of operating licenses for tour operators, ensuring timeous issuing of visas, ensuring the safety of tourists, and expediting other outstanding matters that affect the industry.

“ Boosting the level of engagement between us to drive a more ambitious vision for the economy, is exactly what we need to enable job creation and fostering the ease of doing business, by building better synergies. We must do more to aggressively market and promote our destination with one clear message and voice,” says De Lille.



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