A new tourism marketing scheme has been launched by the Department of Tourism to assist accommodation establishments to become graded and finding new clients, and to encourage them to go green, a total of investment of R600 million over the next three years.
At the launch of the Tourism Incentive Programme by Tourism Minister Derek Hanekom earlier this week, he shared that the growth rate of the tourism industry is faster than that of the country’s economy. It is for this reason that the Programme has been launched, to grow the tourism sector, and to transform it to make it more inclusive and sustainable. Investing in tourism businesses will benefit the economy,the Minister said.
Additional programmes will be added to assist accommodation establishments, but electricity-saving is a start, to save electricity for the national good, and to help the establishments save money. A pilot phase of the program will be launched this year, and applies only to Government-owned facilities initially. This part of the program will grow over time, to include recycling and water management.
In respect of marketing support, the Department will compensate establishments in part for their costs of attending trade exhibitions and roadshows. The support amount will be capped, and must be for SA Tourism-approved marketing programs.
To encourage more establishments to be graded and to remain graded, ‘retroactive discounts‘ will be offered on the grading fee. The longer the establishment remains graded, the larger its discount over time. Transformation by establishments will also be rewarded with discounts.
Minister Hanekom added: ‘Tourism can also be a major force for change. We want to improve destination South Africa. We want to move more decisively toward responsible tourism. We want to make ourselves more competitive internationally. It is not going to be a static incentive programme. We are going to forever seek new and better ways of incentivising behaviour and ensuring that there is constant destination improvement‘.
While the Tourism Incentive Programme is commendable, it seems too little, too late, most accommodation establishments being in the downward phase of their lifecycle, being long-established. As far as tourism grading is concerned, the Department is clearly acting against an increasing number of establishments not renewing their grading due to the onerous conditions imposed, and changes made to the grading requirements relative to when the grading scheme was first introduced.