NEWSLETTER - 29 August 2011

Members Meeting

Another informative and exciting members meeting was held on Thursday 11 August 2011 at Fort Schanskop at the Voortrekker Monument.

The theme for the members meeting was 'Preserving our Heritage' with presentation from the Voortrekker Monument, Ditsong: Museums of South Africa and the Pretoria Art Museum.

Learn more about being part of the TTA Members meetings.

3 days left to enter the Imvelo Awards!

Tourism and hospitality businesses in Africa have until Wednesday, 31 August to enter the 2011 Imvelo Responsible Tourism Awards programme.

Imvelo, running for the tenth year, awards businesses that implement sustained responsible tourism programmes. FEDHASA CEO Brett Dungan says Imvelo has become the benchmark for responsible tourism practice in South Africa and has made a huge impact in the industry. A record number of 219 category entries were received last year. Don't delay, enter now!

E-mail Phishing Scam Alerts

South African Airways would like to advise that there is currently a phishing scam underway which, amongst other companies, targets customers as a way of getting to your credit card and Voyager log-in details, as well as personal information.

The scam involves e-mails with the subject given as: Passenger Itinerary Receipt, "Thanking" customers for their purchase, stating that their booking is confirmed, giving a booking reference number, as well as the credit card charge and then asking the customer to follow a link.

The customers are being advised that these e-mails are Not from South African Airways (SAA), or their Customer Care department as is wrongfully stated in the e-mail.

SAA customers are also being advised that should they receive such an e-mail they should delete it immediately and not enter any personal information.

SAA further advises customers that, no matter how authentic such e-mails may seem, any e-mail supposedly from the airline that has a link to an Internet banking sign-on page, or a page requesting any personal or banking information, is not from SAA.

Furthermore, to never click on such a link as it will take you to a fraudulent website where your banking details, including a PIN or customer selected PIN may be compromised.

SAA has said that it will never include a link that takes customers directly to a log-in page.

For more information contact, SAA on customercare@flysaa.com or 011 978 2888.

Minister launches Tourism Month

As South Africa prepares to celebrate Tourism Month in September, minister of tourism, Marthinus van Schalkwyk, has stressed that domestic tourism is central to the growth and sustainability of the sector.

Speaking this morning at the official launch of Tourism Month 2011 at Freedom Park, Pretoria, Minister van Schalkwyk urged the tourism industry to join hands in its support of findng innovative ways of stimulating domestic tourism. The minister further called for greater cohesion from everyone involved at all levels of South Africa's tourism sector and emphasised the importance of a new approach to the domestic tourism market.

Against the backdrop of an industry still feeling the effects of the global recession, Minister van Schalkwyk said that "in difficult times we need to be even more united as the tourism industry to focus on markets that not only provide quick relief in the short term, but whose growth will be sustainable for many years ahead. With domestic tourism contributing over 70% of our country's tourism volume and contributing to sustaining and creating much-needed jobs, the domestic market has to be one of our key focus areas".

The minister added that in these tough economic times, the industry also needs to look at innovative ways of marketing its tourism products to the domestic traveller, which includes competitive pricing and showcasing our distinctive provinces, cultures, events and attractions in dynamic new ways, and urged that tourism businesses, hotels and other establishments robustly market themselves to the domestic market, especially in the current global economic climate.

International focus

Briefly shifting his focus to the global level, Minister van Schalkwyk reiterated that the National Department of Tourism and South African Tourism (SAT) remain committed to attracting tourists from every corner of the world, with the core markets still absolutely critical and exciting potential being seen for South Africa in new tourism markets.

While market conditions around the globe remain challenging, the minister highlighted that the first quarter of 2011 results showed that South Africa was on the right track with its tourism marketing efforts. From January to April 2011 South Africa had 2 750 175 foreign tourist arrivals to South Africa, up 7.5% on the 2 558 715 recorded over the same period in 2010, with core markets holding their own and good growth being recorded from new markets such as China, Brazil, India and our continent. "Lower hotel occupancy does not mean arrivals are declining; in fact we continue to record impressive growth. It does, however, point to shifts in consumer choice and where people choose to spend their money whilst on holiday in South Africa. We need to therefore work even harder to understand the tourism market and respond to the needs of global travellers. Our major tourism revenues still come from our core markets in Europe and North America and we are working aggressively to defend and grow our position in these markets, while also actively exploring the potential for tourism growth from emerging markets in Asia, the Americas and Africa," Minister van Schalkwyk said.

"However, domestic tourism remains our industry's backbone and we are committed to working with the travel trade to market the destinations and their offerings," he added.

In 2010, 29.7 million domestic trips were taken, marginally less than the 30.3 million in 2009. However, there were increases in the number of trips taken (2.2) as well as an increased length of stay and people travelling for the purpose of a holiday (13.4%, up from 12.0% in 2009).

Minister van Schalkwyk emphasised again that as part of the National Tourism Sector Strategy (NTSS) launched in March 2011, to grow tourist arrivals to South Africa, increase tourism's contribution to the national economy and create jobs, the target has been set to grow domestic tourism from 30.9 million in 2009 to 54 million annual trips by 2020 and significantly increase its contribution to the country's GDP. He continued that "getting the revenue and the tourism numbers we need - and to sustain and grow our industry - will take a collective effort. It will require synergy from tourism bodies at national, provincial and local level and the critical support of the entire tourism industry and our thousands of world-class tourism products in making our world-class destination viable, competitive and even more attractive to local and international travellers. We must not lose sight that ours remains a world-class destination and we must continue to be positive in harvesting its tourism potential".

As a supplementary tool to enhance the NTSS and to ensure that the sector reaches its targets as set out in the NTSS, a Domestic Tourism Strategy has been drafted to ensure further the development of a diversity of products with an appeal to all market segments. The final draft Domestic Tourism Strategy is due for approval early next year.

SAT's new 'Sho't Left' campaign, with its mantra of 'There's no such thing as a wrong turn', is an example of a novel approach to putting the tourism spotlight on all nine of our provinces and SAT and its partners are doing their utmost to market the attributes of the length and breadth of our destination. In its most recent phase of its Sho't Left domestic tourism campaign, SAT is using a number of local influencers to take the message of tourism deep into the heart of the emerging target market. The latest phase of the campaign profiles each of the nine provinces and places special emphasis on the hidden gems that many people might have heard about, but have not visited and explored. The campaign is supported by a number of private-sector and media partners.

South Africa will celebrate World Tourism Day in Clarens in the Free State on 27 September. Further details of the event will be released shortly.

Dictionary of names for southern African trees released for Arbor Week

On 1 September, Briza Publications will, in association with The South African National Biodiversity Institute (SANBI), kick-start Arbor Week with the launch of the Dictionary of names for southern African trees at an event to be held at the Pretoria National Botanical Garden.

The dictionary - which was ten years in the making - provides readers with names of 2 100 trees, selected shrubs and woody climbers native to southern Africa in up to 30 languages. Over 24 000 common names are included, making this the most comprehensive list of southern African indigenous tree names published in a single volume.

Background information about the languages is presented, including guidelines on their structure and sounds, to assist with pronunciation. There is also a map showing where they are mainly spoken, and exquisite line drawings for selected species are provided.

As the distinguished publisher of nature-related publications for 21 years, Briza is extremely proud of this particular publication and sees Dictionary of names for southern African trees, as a proud symbol of its 21 years.

The launch event will include a tree planting ceremony where invited learners from the community will receive the 2011 Trees of the Year posters.

Arbor Week is celebrated across the world during the first week of September. With South Africa hosting the Climate Change Convention of the Parties in November and December this year, the message SANBI would like to convey to South Africans is that planting the right trees in the right places can make a meaningful contribution towards limiting climate.

Trees also play a vital role in assisting us to adapt to changing climate. They provide shade, alleviate flooding, and create valuable habitats for wild life.

The Dictionary of names for Southern African trees retails for R950. A limited 500 copies have been printed, and will be available from Briza and the Bookshop at the Pretoria National Botanical Garden as of 1 September, 2011.

The Trees of the Year poster is also available from Briza.

Every year, The South African National Biodiversity Institute celebrates Arbor Week across its nine National Botanical Gardens by hosting learners on Biodiversity Educational trips.

For more information, please contact: Elsa Hendry on 012 329 3896 or elsa@briza.co.za.

Member News

The Nobleman
The Nobleman Guest House launched their new website. It is still the same link with a fresher new look.

GATE
GATE (Guest House Association of Tshwane & Pretoria East) has now joined the N3 GATEWAY Tourism Association which is part of the Open Africa network of 56 Routes throughout Africa. GATE uses this opportunity to promote Tshwane on a regular basis.

Business Advice

Through his experience providing training to many SMME's member Prem Gangiah has gained valuable insight which he shares with us here.

The key to prudent economic management is to ensure you remain at the wheel of your vehicle and keep your lights on. Here are some practical strategies you can employ now to weather any difficult times for your business.

To diversify or not

There are two different strategies that are at opposing ends of the spectrum. First up, make sure all your eggs are not in the one basket. If 80 per cent of your revenue comes from one major client you have a major risk. Make sure that if you lose a major client that you have other clients from which you can bolster your cash flow.

On the flipside, now is not the time to diversify your products and services. A diversification strategy is risky at the best of times so unless you have a compelling reason to diversify, don't.

Growth is not for all seasons

When leaders talk of strategy they invariably involve growth strategies. Just like the four seasons of nature, economic cycles rotate through boom and bust, up and down, expansion and contraction. One of those seasons is contraction. It might just be prudent to prepare yourself for the rough weather ahead. You need to make a judgement call on this. If it is time to downsize, here are some things you can do:

  • build a cash flow buffer. The thing that will kill your business before anything else is cash flow issues. You may have dozens of things you could do with your cash but it is highly recommended to hold a buffer, ideally three months overheads. It will liberate you from the emotional stresses and strains of market volatility and the flow-on effect of your clients defaulting on you

  • bring forward receipts and defer payments. Look at ways of having clients prepay, eg. discount, credit facility, retainer, installments, etc.

  • reduce debt exposure: Consolidate your debts and reduce your gearing. If interest rates go up debt finance will get more expensive. So sit down with your financiers and proactively manage your debt exposure

  • migrate from fixed to variable costs: This is about two things:
    • reduce your overhead costs in absolute terms, ie. cut costs. All things that are non-core or discretionary go first,
    • migrate your cost structure from fixed to variable. For example, you might use contract labour or outsource instead of bearing the payroll burden.

Manage employment leave exposure: if you have staff with big chunks of leave entitlements encourage them to draw it down rather than pay it out in a lump sum. This is a critical element of prudent cash flow management.

Shorten decision cycles: track your financial performance in shorter cycles. Rather than preparing monthly or bi-monthly accounts prepare cash flow forecasts on a weekly basis. This is a great discipline at any time. Most bookkeepers are adept at cash flow reconciliations and even financial reporting but the real value they can add is in shortening that reporting cycle AND shifting the focus to forecasting rather than just reconciling the past. In an uncertain future the past may not be a good barometer of the future.

The major change you can make is to be proactive and stay on the front foot. This is how an empowered leader leads.

Upcoming industry conferences and exhibitions

The following conferences and exhibitions may be of interest:

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