NEWSLETTER - 22 November 2012

INDABA reverts back to four days

Following constructive discussions with INDABA Bid Parties and the broader tourism industry in Kwazulu-Natal, South African Tourism has decided to revert back to a four-day INDABA taking place from 11-14 May 2013.

For all stakeholders, it made business sense to continue to have the show over four days at Durban's Inkosi Albert Luthuli International Convention Centre, and we would like to thank them for their input. We are, however, continuously reviewing INDABA and will make fundamental changes to the show from 2014 onwards, which we hope to announce shortly.

As for INDABA 2013, we are working on ensuring a positive INDABA experience for all delegates and on improving the strong product mix. We are confident the show will retain its important status in generating business for South Africa's travel trade and providing considerable value for local and international buyers.

The costs for the hire of the INDABA venue has gone up an average of 20% over the last three years and while we have tried to shield exhibitors from these increased costs, we regrettably will have to implement the 6% inflation increase for INDABA 2013. We have, however, provided a 10% discount to TOMSA levy collectors, who are the main stand holders at INDABA. We advise all tourism products to check that they are in good standing with TOMSA by the end of November, so as to be able to benefit from this discount.

In order to enhance the quality and business environment at INDABA, we have made the criteria for visitors to INDABA stricter and will allow local trade visitors access to the show on 12, 13 and 14 May and to students only on 14 May.


Responsible Tourism National Minimum Standards

Responsible tourism means protecting environmental integrity, upholding social justice and spreading maximum local economic benefit. Up until now the eco-labels had differing priorities on these three pillars. South Africa has recently launched its National Minimum Standards for Responsible Tourism. It helps create a cohesive understanding of sustainability in the industry.

If a South African hotel, B+B or adventure business claims to be a sustainable or responsible tourism operation, can you believe them?

To one business, being responsible might mean recycling and installing aerated showerheads. Another may prioritise paying staff members a fair wage and offering training and upliftment. A third could interpret responsible tourism as using more waterwise indigenous plants for landscaping and supporting local businesses.

So what eco-labels or responsible tourism accreditations can you believe? Surely they should all subscribe to the triple bottom line of environmental, social and economic responsibility?

Between 2002 and 2009, several prominent new responsible tourism 'labels' or accreditation bodies emerged in South Africa, and Government saw there was a growing need to set minimum standards.

In September 2011, after 18 months of consultation with the stakeholders in the tourism industry, the South African Government launched its National Minimum Standard on Responsible Tourism.

Now, whether you stay at a destination certified by Fair Trade in Tourism, Heritage, GreenLine or Green Leaf, you'll know that your money is helping to uplift and involve communities, helping to minimise environmental impact and is stimulating the local economy.

Although the standard is voluntary, they will make it easier to detect examples of false marketing or 'greenwashing'. Tourism businesses can be asked whether and how they adhere to the 'General Claims'.

The NMSRT, formalised through the South African Bureau of Standards, aligns this country's responsible tourism offerings with international standards, specifically the Global Sustainable Tourism Criteria, first published in 2009.

Broadly speaking, here are some of the guidelines:

  • Avoid waste and overconsumption
  • Use local resources in a sustainable way
  • Maintain and encourage natural, social, economic and cultural diversity
  • Be sensitive to the host culture
  • Involve the local community in planning and decision-making
  • Assess the environmental, social and economic impacts before embarking on tourism developments
  • Ensure that communities are involved in, and benefit from, tourism.


Tourism business index bounces back

The Q3 index results of the TBCSA FNB Tourism Business Index ("TBI") shows that tourism business performance has returned to the highs of Q1 following a somewhat disappointing Q2 report. Speaking at the release of the index today, TBCSA CEO, Mmatšatši Ramawela, added that "the really exciting news was the projected performance for Q4 which has reached an all time peak of 103.1. "As we go into the major international in-bound season, it is really encouraging to sense renewed confidence from the industry"

For Q3 tourism businesses registered a performance index of 101, an overall improvement from the Q2 TBI of 88.2. This is the second quarter this year in which business has reached normal levels of trading and follows six consecutive quarters of below normal performance since mid-2010.

Ramawela further explained that the positive outlook was good for industry sentiment, "particularly in the current environment where the country faces some tough socio-economic challenges with the recent spade of labour unrest in the mining and transport sectors, the lowering of governments' credit rating and the increasing cost of fuel and food which continue to erode household disposable income".

Notably, the Q3 TBI also marks the first quarter in which the accommodation sector showed a positive outlook in terms of employment, raising hopes that the industry could meet the objectives of the National Tourism Sector Strategy in the medium to long-term. In this quarter the performance index for the accommodation sector was slightly lower than normal at 98.1, but still well up on the 89.9 of Q2, while 'other tourism businesses' recorded a higher performance index of 103.3, showing an even greater improvement on the Q2 index of 86.9.

"The latest results show us that there is a definite positive balance in both the accommodation and other tourism businesses", says Wiza Nyondo, Head of Tourism at FNB. "These results demonstrate an improvement in business performance, resulting to healthier consumer confidence and also showcases how these businesses continue to positively impact the growth of the tourism market. At FNB we remain confident that the industry will continue to grow as we head towards the tourism peak periods".

Input costs, with reference to the rising cost of fuel, electricity and the looming implementation of e-Tolls in Gauteng were mentioned by many respondents as negative factors to industry performance

Lastly, Q3 TBI results were in line with industry expectations and correlate with the results of the quarterly RMB/BER Business Confidence Index ("BCI") – however this trend was not reflected in the SAACI Business Confidence Index ("BCI"). Head of Advisory Services at Grant Thornton, Gillian Saunders said "herein lies the real value of the Tourism Business Index". She explained that even though methodologies were not the same and therefore likely to produce different results, the fact that industry expectations were reflected in the actual results was a true testament to the value of the TBI as a valuable tool for empowering businesses in their strategic planning. "We hope that more and more tourism products are starting to see the value of their participation in the development of the TBI and that support for the index will continue to grow".

Overall, tourism business performance has bounced back with the industry expected to perform even better in the last quarter of the year.


Tomsa agreement to create value for contributors

Contributors to the Tourism Marketing South Africa (TOMSA) initiative, stand to benefit substantially, following the conclusion of a new agreement between Tourism Business Council of South Africa (TBCSA) and South African Tourism (SA Tourism). The three-year Memorandum of Understanding includes a number of new benefits which are aimed at adding value to tourism businesses that support and contribute to TOMSA.

TOMSA is a voluntary, private sector-led initiative, where tourism businesses collect a 1% levy or fixed rand amount from all confirmed accommodation, car rental or tour bookings, to contribute towards SA Tourism's international profiling and marketing of destination South Africa.

"As was discussed at the recent South African Travel and Tourism Industry Conference (SATTIC 2012), we can do more to boost our destination's level of competitiveness, says TBCSA Chief Executive Officer, Mmatšatši Ramawela. "Moreover, we need to work towards expanding our share of the global tourism market, and ensure that our promotional efforts have the required impact", she added.

By providing more tangible benefits, both organizations hope that this will encourage current collectors to continue supporting the initiative, whilst also inspiring new supporters to subscribe to the levy collection system. New benefits are as follows:

  • The provision of discounts for levy collectors who wish to exhibit at international shows such as the World Travel Market (WTM) in London and International Tourism Bourse (ITB) in Berlin. SA Tourism will also provide assistance in scheduling meetings with buyers and industry players at these trade shows;

  • The provision of a 10% discount on grading fees for current levy collectors in the accommodation sector, whose properties are graded. Discounted rates will further apply for accommodation establishments that support TOMSA but have not been graded since 1 October 2011.

Thulani Nzima, CEO of South African Tourism expressed appreciation for the TBCSA's vision to increase the TOMSA levy collector base: "We are confident that the current MOU will encourage more members to come onboard and help augment South Africa's marketing efforts globally".

In conclusion, Ramawela thanked all tourism operators who continue to support TOMSA and said the TBCSA and its stakeholders are looking at ways in which to expand the levy collection to other tourism sectors. "As we have previously mentioned, we are in discussions with a number of local tourism associations as well as our member associations to see how we can expand support for TOMSA to other parts of the tourism industry. After all, our overall aim is to ensure that we have all tourism operators supporting TOMSA and in turn helping to promote South Africa as a preferred tourist destination".


Upcoming industry conferences, exhibitions and events

See what hot entertainment is on in the city

Meetings Africa 2013, 18–21 February 2013, Johannesburg

The Power of One Tourism Roadshow, 1 May 2013, Pretoria

Indaba 2013, 11 - 14 May 2013, Durban

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