New market access partnership to develop SME tourism sector launched in South Africa

South African Tourism has partnered with the Southern African Tourism Services Association (SATSA) on a brand-new market access partnership to develop the SME tourism sector whilst contributing towards transformation.

“We are extremely pleased to be part of this initiative because transformation is at the centre of the work that we do here at South African Tourism. Developing and supporting Small and Medium-sized Enterprises (SMEs) is a big part of this because it is in developing SMEs that we inject new energy in our sector, introduce diversity and variety and ultimately cater to the needs of the tourists who are looking for unique and authentic experiences” says Sisa Ntshona, Chief Executive Officer, at South African Tourism.

Based on the premise that innovation is the key to bringing Historically Disadvantaged Enterprises (HDEs) into the mainstream of tourism and the understanding that transformation initiatives must first make commercial sense, the Market Access Programme is an intermediate marketplace where carefully selected and prepared emerging product get to meet with large trade members in an environment that allows for informed discussions and business deals. The project is based on learnings from the very successful Gauteng SME market access event SATSA hosted in March 2016, in partnership with the Gauteng Tourism Authority, Jo’burg Tourism, South African Tourism, the Gauteng Enterprise Propeller and the Gauteng Department of Economic Development.

“The National SME Market Access Programme aligns with SATSA’s strategy of contributing to transformation and offering trade members exciting and unique products and destinations to add to their portfolio.” Says David Frost, Chief Executive Officer of SATSA.

Running between December 2016 and May 2017, the initiative will see small- and medium-sized historically disadvantaged enterprises from across the country participate, through a graduated selection process, in training and peer-to-peer mentorship. This will be followed by directly introducing selected SMEs to key decision makers from the leading inbound tourism trade at a speed marketing session to be hosted on 15 May 2017, the day before the annual Tourism INDABA in Durban as part of South African Tourism’s Hidden Gems programme. This will culminate in the selected SMEs exhibiting at the trade show from the 16th to 18th of May.

Historically disadvantaged small- and medium-sized tourism businesses across South Africa are invited to register before 15 December 2016. Through an inclusive selection process, a committee will select 30 trade relevant SME products per province who will then attend a 5-day training course and finally the top 10 products per province will be selected to participate in peer-to-peer mentorship and trade marketing platforms.

Provincial and local tourism authorities and other interested parties are invited to join the project by participating in the selection committee to ensure that the best of the best small businesses advance through the process and by attending the various workshops, and assisting selected SMEs.

Recognising that the inbound tour operator plays a pivotal role in facilitating interactions with SMEs, members of SATSA will be approached to offer their services as mentors, present at provincial training programmes and to attend the one-day speed marketing session on 15 May 2017. The industry plays a large role in providing candid feedback and helpful critique directly to the SMEs to improve their individual products.

“The most effective way to grow and advance our industry is through collaboration and partnerships because success is truly guaranteed with coordinated efforts towards a common vision and goal,” adds Ntshona.

“We look forward to delivering a massively successful project that will change the transformation landscape in the South African tourism industry,” concludes Frost.

Source: eTN