Minister of Tourism Derek Hanekom at the University of Pretoria during the tourism symposium. Picture: Oupa Mokoena

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

Minister of Tourism Derek Hanekom was among those who attended the symposium. Speakers focused on ways to make SA tourism more accessible.

Even though the topic was mostly on accessibility, Chris Zweigenthal of the Airlines Association of South Africa said their challenge as airlines was they did not have good relationships with international airlines [SEE CORRECTION BELOW]. “International airlines are not keen on sharing routes, hence we are not doing really well on an international level,” he said.

Rob Collins of Sun International agreed with Zweigenthal that tourism was not doing well in the country. “We operate in silence instead of working together and because of that there is no progress,” he said.

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

“We are here talking about accessibility but we are not taking advantage and supporting each other,” he said.

“Services are more important than anything else when it comes to tourism,” said David Frost of the Southern Africa Tourism Services Association.

People did not only look at places they visited but also the kind of 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 SA again because of that,” Frost said.

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

Judi Nwokedi from Tourvest 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.”

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

Pretoria News

APOLOGY

​In the article above, Chris Zweigenthal, Chief Executive Airlines Association of Southern Africa, is quoted as suggesting that relationships with international airlines were not good. Rather, he noted during a Tourism month panel discussion in Pretoria, was that African states granted route rights to foreign countries, rather than exchange them with other African states, and he urged urged African airlines develop a strong domestic and regional base from which they could expand internationally. 

The Pretoria News regrets the any wrong inferences in the report, and apologises to Mr Zweigenthal, and others on the panel.