Elizabeth Thabethe, the Deputy Minister of Tourism with Derek Hanekom, the Minister of Tourism at the recent Africa's Travel Indaba.

South Africa is beginning to offer more to the local traveler and the seasonal tourist savvy for the scenic beauty and the hospitality of our people.

For Destination South Africa to flourish it is incumbent on all of us to take interest in the betterment of such offerings and by creating support instruments such as mentorship and coaching, incubation and entrepreneur skills training, and facilitating market access and exposure, and through funding and incentives.

In 2016, we mooted the idea of Tourism Business Incubators and two years later we have already established 4 such incubators in Bushbuckridge in Mpumalanga ; Phalaborwa, Limpopo; Mier Upington in the Northern Cape and Pilanesberg in Bokone Bophirima.

Those of our SMMEs have seen increases in occupancy rates, developed online promotional presence for the first time and never-heard-of-before guesthouses are pinning star grading to their facilities and thus increasing their market share.
We have already supported 584 small tourism enterprises to participate in international and domestic trade platforms through our Tourism Incentive Programme which started in 2015. It has since improved access to international markets for small businesses. 

Our Grading Support Programme aimed to reduce the cost burden on small tourism enterprises has since 2017 supported 1 529 on through discounts of up to 90% towards their grading assessment fees.

Our Women in Tourism inaugural conference in 2014 started national campaign. It is aimed at engaging women on issues of empowerment, funding, incentives for women, as well as creating a platform to celebrate women achievers. 

Just last year, we mapped the skills needed by industry, and gave birth to various youth training interventions such as chefs training, food safety, wine tasting, beach stewards and tour guides.

Among the youth based projects include:

  • Our Youth Chefs Training Programme in a partnership with the South African Chef Associations (SACA) is currently in its fifth phase, benefiting 1867 young people.
  • Youth Hospitality Programme has benefited 6 813 unemployed youth.
  • Our US Placement Programme exposed 600 youth to advanced cookery, restaurant and hotel management skills. Around 76 young chefs were placed in international hotels in the United States of America and 20 in the Seychelles.   During this year, additional 755 learners have enrolled in the Chefs Programme.
  •  300 learners from across the country in a 3-year Wine Service Training Programme.  
  • The Food Safety Assurers Apprenticeship Programme has skilled 489 learners and this year. 
  • Blue Flag training programme has enrolled 300 learners as beach stewards on a National Certificate Environmental Education Training and Development 

We continue to tell a good story, including the one of Nompumelelo Mqwebu, author of an indigenous cookbook titled “Through the eye of an African chef,” which has been nominated for the Gourmand World Cookbook Award in Yantai, China later this month.
We recently scooped an award at the Global Summit of Women in Australia, Sydney, for our Youth Chefs Training Programme.
We have completed the review of the domestic tourism sector and we will also continue to investigate and implement ways of making tourism experiences affordable and accessible to all South Africans. Our aim is to develop community-based tourism experiences to maximise benefits from tourism for local communities.
We will support a minimum of 15 community enterprises in Gauteng, KwaZulu-Natal, Free State and North West.  
To mark the Nelson Mandela Centenary, we will co-host a series of nationwide provincial youth leadership conferences and eco- tours together with the Nelson Mandela Children’s Fund.
We are getting there but recognise that more work needs be done to ensure that the benefits of this people-centered money spinner called tourism are accessible to all.