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Negative press and travel bans: How South Africa aims to fight back

SA tourism sector has been dealt a bad hand many times in the past few months.Picture: Clinton Moodley.

SA tourism sector has been dealt a bad hand many times in the past few months.Picture: Clinton Moodley.

Published Jun 4, 2021


South Africa went from being a top travel choice for pandemic holidays to a shunned destination for most of their key markets due to the pandemic.

And while South African Tourism (SA Tourism) and the Tourism Business Council of South Africa (TBCSA) have done everything in their power to entice travel to South Africa, the country has been dealt a bad hand many times in the past few months.

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Many destinations have discouraged its locals not to visit South Africa, global media labelled the country as unsafe for travel due to Covid-19 and reported the B.1.351 variant as the “South African Covid-19 variant”.

To resurrect travel demand, South African Tourism (SAT) and TBCSA announced the launch of their Global Tourism Advocacy Programme that forms part of the Tourism Road to Recovery plan.

According to SAT, the programme will focus on the causal issues for adverse travel positioning in each source market ranging from policy, trade, commercial, media, influential voices and social media dynamics.

The programme will assess the supply-side visitor experience dynamics leveraging positivity and highlight gaps that the sector may need to address to meet demand when markets reopen to South Africa. The programme also seeks to find market access channels for new products and experiences.

Acting chief executive officer for South Africa Sthembiso Dlamini said South Africa, like many other countries, hopes to rebuild its tourism sector and economic contribution.

“It is for this reason that South African Tourism is taking this as a unique opportunity to reposition South Africa (the brand) to the rest of the world by developing and implementing a global advocacy programme. We want to re-ignite the South African brand, particularly at the back of the damage caused by the Covid-19 pandemic and the inaccurate labelling of the B.1.351 variant," Dlamini said.

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TBCSA chief executive Tshifhiwa Tshivhengwa said the negative global narrative in the Red List casts South Africa in a negative light in terms of how the country is handling the pandemic.

"This has a negative effect on tourism attractiveness. This partnership between TBCSA and SA Tourism and the consequent global advocacy programme will assist in cementing the tourism recovery plan and will revive the tourism sector," said Tshivhengwa.

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