While cultural tourism is not a new travel trend by any means, South Africa has only recently jumped on the marketing bandwagon by promoting our diverse offerings as cultural tourism destinations. Here’s how you can turn your tavern into a tourist destination and cash in on cultural tourism.
What makes a travel destination rock for you? Is it the people you meet, or the history of the place? Maybe it’s the unique architecture and décor quirks that get your pulse racing. But what about the food, art, music, and the lifestyle of the environment? Cultural tourism is a growing travel trend that feeds your need as a curious traveller to learn more about the culture of the place you’re visiting.
Most tourism bodies all over the world consider cultural tourism an important potential source of tourism growth. Cultural tourists, it is believed, are high spenders who are sensitive to the environment or local culture and can contribute a great deal to the economy of a place. In fact, the World Tourism Organisation says cultural tourism accounts for a staggering 37% of global tourism. If you haven’t caught on yet, now is the time to cash in on the upswing and attract cultural tourists to your tavern.
While cultural tourism is not a new travel trend by any means, South Africa has only recently jumped on the marketing bandwagon by promoting our diverse offerings as cultural tourism destinations.
Cultural Tourism in South Africa
Think South African tourism and you immediately think of safaris, which have, since colonial times, been one of the country’s draw-cards. However, in 2012, the department of tourism launched the National Heritage and Cultural Tourism strategy to unlock the economic potential of cultural tourism, and stimulate tourism growth in South Africa that reaches beyond just driving through the bush in search of the Big Five.
Former minister of tourism, Marthinus van Schalkwyk, said the strategy marked a significant milestone as the first blueprint for heritage and cultural development in South Africa.
“Heritage and cultural tourism products create authenticity and distinctiveness in the global tourism market and therefore heritage and culture are important drivers in making a destination attractive and competitive as these enhance the image and social cohesion of a destination,” he said.
South Africa’s rich history and vivid cultural landscape make it an ideal destination for cultural tourists. Besides our eight World Heritage Sites, from Robben Island to the iSimangaliso Wetland Park, and myriad key destinations that commemorate moments on our historical timeline (like the Battlefields route), our lifestyle is fascinating to outsiders. Where else in the world can you explore the traditions of an indigenous community and enjoy a Big Five safari on the same day? Or delve into an emotional exploration of our struggle history followed by shisanyama at a raucous tavern?
When it comes to cultural diversity, South Africa owns the bragging rights. But it’s our township tours that are truly spearheading the growth of cultural tourism. According to NBC News, township tours have grown into a multimillion dollar business, with Soweto being named Johannesburg’s top tourist destination.
Here’s how to turn your tavern into a tourist destination:
Using the key points of the National Heritage and Cultural Tourism strategy means you can’t work in isolation. If you want to attract cultural tourists (specifically people from overseas who bring foreign currency) to your premises, you must attract them to your area. This means you need to get community buy-in, and will more than likely have to partner with existing tourism operators near you.
Here are some things to think about:
Thanks to the exchange rate, visitors are flocking to our shores to experience our unique lifestyle and our famous hospitality. Whatever you do, be sure to present your offerings to international guests under the umbrella spirit of ubuntu. That’s what they’re here for.
For more information on the National Heritage and Cultural Tourism strategy, please visit www.tourism.gov.za
As reported in the March 2015 Tourism Satellite Account for South Africa report, which provides an overview of tourism’s contribution in terms of spending, employment and its impact on the gross domestic product, the tourism industry contributed R103.6-billion to the economy in 2013. Non-resident visitor numbers were estimated at 14.3-million during this period.
International and domestic visitors have different spending habits. For every R100 spent by an international visitor in 2013, R27 was spent on non-specific products, R15 on tourism-connected products, R14 on accommodation, R12 on road transport and R12 on air transport; and R20 was spent on other products. (Source: Tourism Satellite Account for South Africa, March 2015).