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“No More Own Goals!” A message to incoming Tourism Minister

Stop Scoring Own Goals and Hampering Tourism’s Recovery!

JOHANNESBURG, 01 FEBRUARY 2023: “The Department of Tourism needs to stop scoring own goals, get the basics right and then get out the way so that we can do what we do well.” This is the advice of Marc Wachsberger, CEO of The Capital Hotels and Apartments, the country’s fastest-growing hotel group.

“We have a beautiful country that remains a popular destination for travellers worldwide. In the past, we have either had to contend with interventions that made it harder for people to visit or unfulfilled promises that have left unnecessary red tape in place. That is why my advice to the department is to stop messing around with football teams, make good on their promises and then let the industry take it from there,” he explains.

At the top of a short list of basics that need to be addressed are safety and e-Visas. “There has been a significant post-COVID bounce back but the government continues to score own goals by spending money on anything other than the essentials, i.e., safety and security for visitors and e-Visas. If these problems can be resolved, we as an industry can get on with the business of showcasing the country in the best possible light,” explains Wachsberger.

Loadshedding is also a top priority, but it does not show any signs of disappearing anytime soon. Its effects, however, are threatening to squeeze the life out of an industry that barely survived COVID-19. Continuous escalating costs for large and small hoteliers have seen their costs rise by as much as 35%, in some cases, while their room rates have struggled to keep pace. This status quo is unsustainable.

The simple implementation of an e-Visa process, which has been discussed for years, and ensuring the safety of tourists during their travels will do much more to rejuvenate South Africa’s tourism industry than other interventions the government has tried in the past.

Wachsberger concludes, “As an industry, we know what we need to do to get this sector going. We have spent too long going back and forth with the Department, only for them to make unilateral decisions that we end up paying for. All we need are the basics. We are agile, innovative, and blessed with a beautiful product. We can do the rest.”

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Editors’ notes: According to the World Travel and Tourism Council (WTTC), South Africa’s tourism industry could become a key driver of economic growth over the next decade, with the sector expected to contribute 800,000 jobs and R287 billion to the national economy by 2032.

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