South Africa has it all

Dramatic coastlines and mountains, pristine beaches, vineyards, wildlife, flora and an ideal climate

Since 1994, when Nelson Mandela became the first black president of the new South Africa, the country has looked to the future and the tourists have come. Tourism is playing an increasing role in the South African economy (it is now one of the country's top five leading economic growth industries) and the government is determined that responsible tourism should be the guiding principle as the industry develops.

The spotlight fell on South Africa last year when it hosted 50,000 attendees at the World Summit on Sustainable Development or the Rio Earth Summit +10. Although South Africa now has an enlightened constitution and prohibits discrimination by ethnic or social origin, religion, gender, sexual orientation and language, the country still bears the scars of the Apartheid years. Jobs are in short supply and many citizens still struggle with poverty.

Over the years, the main focus of governments has been on growing international arrivals and total foreign exchange earnings rather than fostering entrepreneurial opportunities for the historically disadvantaged.

In 1996, a White Paper on the 'Development and Promotion of Tourism in South Africa' concluded that in the past tourism development in the country had largely been 'a missed opportunity and its narrow focus had reduced the industry's potential to encourage entrepreneurship and create new services such as local entertainment and crafts.

Government and the private sector have since launched various initiatives to promote empowerment of impoverished communities and sustainable job creation, identifying tourism as a major contributor to transformation. A strong focus is placed upon community empowerment and the development of small, medium and micro enterprises (SMMEs).

Today, South Africa recognises that responsible tourism is not a luxury but an absolute necessity if it is to solve its social problems, emerge as a successful international competitor, and keep pace with international trends in responsible business practice. In fact, following the United Nations Commission on Sustainable Development (CSD) in Johannesburg last year, Mohammed Valli Moosa, South Africa's Minister of Environmental Affairs and Tourism was elected to lead the follow-up process as Chairman for the next CSD session in New York this April.

Tourists at home
The government's objective is to ensure that all South Africans have equal access to tourism services as consumers and providers. However, the majority of its citizens have never been meaningfully exposed to the tourism sector and have a learning curve to overcome. Enterprises and communities need to identify ways in which they can provide a sufficiently wide range of tourism experiences to be accessible to the average South African so they can become 'tourists at home'.

The responsible tourism guidelines published by the government's Department of Environmental Affairs and Tourism last year provide a framework for marketing, trade and professional associations and regional groups to develop codes of conduct and best practice. Those codes will form commitments for association members who can establish their own strategies and priorities in order to maximise their commercial advantage from equitable and responsible business practice.

Triple bottom line approach

Assessing three inter-related guiding principles - social, economic and environmental impacts are the pre-requisites to developing tourism in South Africa.

The mechanisms through which this will be achieved include:

  • increasing the proportion of tourism spending that stays in the local area
  • creating local linkages where inputs for tourism enterprises are sourced locally, diversifying the local economy
  • ensuring that communities are involved in, and benefit from, tourism
  • finding ways to promote and advertise fair trade and local enterprise through, for example, co-operative marketing
  • sharing the benefits of tourism through equitable contracts and agreements with local entrepreneurs
  • involving local communities in planning and decision making
  • maintaining social and cultural diversity and sensitivity
  • using local resources sustainably, avoiding waste and over-consumption
  • maintaining and encouraging natural diversity

Fast Facts

Location
Halfway between the Equator and the Antarctic, South Africa is the southernmost country on the African continent and consists of nine provinces. The Atlantic and Indian Oceans meet at its southernmost tip, Cape Agulhas

Climate
Monthly average temperatures range between around 31°C in the Cape Winelands in January to -2°C in the Drakensburg in July. Monthly rainfall varies between 2mm north of the Orange River in July to around 130mm on the west coast in January

Population: 43 million

International Airports
Johannesburg, Cape Town, and (soon to be licensed) Kruger Mpumalanga International

Domestic Travel: Efficient road and rail network and domestic airports

Key Issues: poverty alleviation, employment and local economic development crime and security, aids and other health issues, skills training, protection of wildlife and delicate ecosystems

Responsible Tourism
In 2002 280 delegates from 20 countries attended the Cape Town Conference on Responsible Tourism in Destinations. This grew from the guidelines for responsible tourism published last year by the Department of Environmental Affairs and Tourism

Activities with Low Environmental Impacts
Walking, 'kloofing' (boulder hopping), climbing, horse riding, fishing, cycling, whale and bird watching, safaris and nature reserve

Putting principles into practice

Last year, six members of the tourism industry in Southern Africa became partners in a new Pro-Poor Tourism (PPT) programme. PPT strategies are designed to increase the net benefits of tourism for the poor by focusing on issues such as employment and training, purchasing and sourcing patterns, resource and revenue-sharing, infrastructure development consultation, and other improvements to livelihood that can be derived from tourism. At each site, strategies will be developed that are specific to local conditions.

The industry partners and their chosen sites working in South Africa are:

  • Sun International, working at Sun City, North West Province, South Africa's largest resort
  • Southern Sun, the largest hotel chain in Southern Africa, focusing on the Sandton Sun and Tower InterContinental Hotel along with other hotels in the Sandton area of Johannesburg
  • Wilderness Safaris, working at the Rocktail Bay Lodge in KwaZulu-Natal
  • Spier and its expanding range of accommodation, attractions and facilities on the Western Cape's wine route

Over the next two years, the programme will work on site with these partners to help them to establish long-term strategies that will significantly impact on local poverty and make business sense to the operator.

Fair Trade in Tourism in South Africa (FTTSA) encourages fair tourism in South Africa by promoting established tourism businesses that demonstrate a commitment to economically responsible practices, such as ensuring fair wages and fair conditions for workers. At the same time, FTTSA provides small community-based tourism business with the market visibility and support that is vital to their economic viability.

Following a two-year pilot phase facilitated by IUCN South Africa, FTTSA is implementing a trademark programme for tourism enterprises that conform to its principles. These are: fair share; democracy; respect for human rights, culture and environment; reliability; transparency; and sustainability.

Assessors, drawn from throughout South Africa, are currently being trained to conduct independent assessments of pre-screened applicants. The aim is to give consumers a choice so they can consciously decide to use the services of responsible tourism enterprises while on holiday or business. Businesses eligible for the trademark include B&Bs, hotels, game lodges and community-based tourism enterprises and attractions.

Case Study
Sun City has spent more than R8 million (US $l million) on financial and managerial assistance and development programmes around the resort since 1996, helping thousands of residents and providing direct employment for 158 people engaged in work for the community. Projects include crèches, formal schools, child protection and community security, farming, craft work and clinics. The resort employs a full time Corporate Social Investment (CSI) manager who not only identifies need, but also drives the projects and monitors them on an on-going basis.

In January South African Tourism and the Western Cape Tourism Board sponsored a workshop in London for a number of small medium and micro enterprises (SMMEs) from South Africa.

The aim was to showcase the quality SMME products on offer to the mainstream tourism industry in the UK and to help participants gain the knowledge they need to add value to their products and successfully market their offerings internationally.

Six emerging tourism entrepreneurs, selected for their innovation and sound business practices, presented their products and services to the UK's leading tour operators with a view to tailoring them to the needs of the international market.

Case Study
Conservation Corporation Africa (CC Africa)

CC Africa has practised its principle of 'care of the land, care of the wildlife, care of the people' for over a decade. The CC Africa 'model' attracts high net worth, discerning global travellers whose leisure expenditure fuels the development of conservation, land-restoration and enhancement of local communities.

CC Africa was formed in 1990, when it began an ambitious project to restore 17,000 hectares of degraded KwaZulu-Natal farmland to its pristine state. Rl00 million (US$12.5 million) was invested in converting the damaged land to wildlife, restocking it with wild animals (including the 'big five') and developing Phinda Private Game Reserve.

The project set an example which informed the establishment of the neighbouring Greater St. Lucia Wetland Park -one of South Africa's first World Heritage Sites.

The Phinda project demonstrated that better returns could be made from land under wildlife than under agriculture. Gross revenue from cattle on the land in 1993 was R150 (US$19) per ha per annum, while under wildlife in that year it was R1, 500 (US$188) per ha per annum. Employment of local people has increased from 60 people under cattle to 240 under wildlife.

Today, 80% of Phinda's employees come from surrounding villages and it is the single biggest employer in a region where unemployment is estimated at 70%.

The company's newest reserve at Kwandwe, meaning 'Place of the Blue Crane', on the banks of the Great Fish River, Eastern Cape opened in October 2001. There, 16,000 hectares of degraded farmland have been rehabilitated and restocked with 7,000 head of game in a US$10million investment project. Six separate stock farms have been amalgamated and restored. Around 2,000 km of fencing has been removed as well as all signs of organised agriculture -troughs, windmills, and reservoirs, bits of broken plough, tractors and derelict farm buildings. Indigenous vegetation has been reintroduced and 7,500 head of game brought in. By the time the lodge opened, 120 jobs had been created.

In 1992 CC Africa set up an independent non-profit rural development foundation. Basing its activities on the premise that the success of a conservation project was closely linked to the buy-in of the local community, the foundation focuses on improving education, health, Aids awareness, sport, cultural expression, water supply, small business enterprise and environmental custodianship.

For Further Information Contact:
www.ccafrica.com

General Manager for South African Tourism UK Willem Eksteen said: "In an industry traditionally dominated by big business, the emergence of SMMEs plays a vital role in job creation and the achievement of a more equitable distribution of income. In fact, one job is created for every eight visitors to South Africa. Initiatives like the workshop and the annual Emerging Tourism Entrepreneur of the Year Awards

(ElEYA) are just two ways we are encouraging the growth of sustainable tourism in South Africa".

The ETEYA awards were first launched at INDABA 2001, Africa's largest travel and tourism show. Last year, 127 entries were received and whittled down to 9 provincial finalists who showcased their products and services to a worldwide audience on the South Africa stand at the 2002 World Travel Market. The 2002 ETEYA award winner was Berry Ramunenyiwa, owner of Vevisa Lodge in Limpopo Province.

Opened in January 2002, Vevisa Lodge is a luxury B&B in Thohoyandou, former capital of Venda. It offers superior en-suite accommodation and an environmentally friendly garden. Berry employs 14 people from the local community to help run his guest house.

Other regional winners and finalists in the awards included:

  • The Lelapa restaurant, Langa, Western Cape - one of the oldest townships in Cape Town
  • G&D Guest House, Western Cape, between Table Mountain and Stellenbosch
  • Sangweni Lodge, Alice, Eastern Cape
  • Nongoma Lodge, KwaZulu Natal-an exclusive lodge surrounded by the Zulu King's palace
  • Olwandle Guesthouse, KwaZulu Natal -ideal for conferences and overlooking the sea
  • Otshwayelo Camp Site, KwaZulu Natal, just outside the Maputo border
  • Didimalang Guest House, Galeshewe Township, Northern Cape
  • Mhangy's Rock Resort, in the heart of the Limpopo Bushveld, Northern Cape
  • The View Guest House, Tembisa Township, Gauteng Province
  • Rhythm and Blues Guest House, a luxury guesthouse in Rocklands Township, Free State.
  • Intabazwe B&B -a township project to provide accommodation for the tourist in transit through the Eastern Free State.

INDABA 2003 in Durban in May will provide another valuable opportunity for the country's tourism newcomers to showcase their products and services to an anticipated 1,600 international delegates. The Western Cape Tourism Board recently received a commendation award at the 2002 Association of Independent Tour Operators (AlTO) Responsible Tourism Awards for its work with SMMEs in the tourism industry.

Department of Environmental Affairs and Tourism, South Africa
www.environment.gov.za

Fair Trade in Tourism in South Africa (FTTSA)
www.fairtourismsa.org.za

Pro-Poor Tourism
www.propoortourism.org.uk

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