Plea for greater co-operation to attract more tourists

In celebration of Tourism Month, experts 
gathered at the University of Pretoria to discuss issues relating to the industry.

Tourism Minister Derek Hanekom was among the people who attended the Tourism Management Symposium on Friday, where speakers and experts focused mainly on ways to make South African tourism more accessible.

Although the topic was mostly on accessibility, Chris Zweigenthal, of the Airlines Association of South Africa, said the group's challenge as airlines was that members did not have good relationships with international airlines.

“International airlines are not keen on sharing routes, hence we are not doing really well on an international level.”

Sun International's Rob Collins agreed with Zweigenthal that tourism was not doing well in the country.

“We operate in silence instead of working together and because there is no progress,” he said.

Collins said tourists were not keen on going to Europe due to the rate of terrorism taking place in the region, and instead of welcoming tourists in South Africa, the operators turned a blind eye.

David Frost, of the Southern Africa Tourism Services, said they were talking about accessibility but were not taking advantage and supporting one another.

“Services are more important than anything else when it comes to tourism,” said Frost.

He said people did not only look at places they visited, but also the service they received, especially at airports.

“If people go to airports and are not properly assisted, experience long queues, 
children screaming and parents shouting, that is the kind of experience they will always remember, and will not come to South Africa again because of that.”

He said they must firstly improve the service they give to tourists.

Singing a different tune from her fellow panellists was Judi Nwokedi, from Tourvest, who said people needed to focus more on ways to solve problems they were faced with and how to move forward.

“We need to focus more on how to make South Africa accessible to tourists rather than everything that hinders them from coming into the country, or things that are not done,” she said.

Panellists said tourism played an important role in the country’s economy. However, they did not get as much support as they needed and aimed to turn around the situation.

Source: Independent Online