Brace yourself: Black Friday for travellers is coming ...

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Brace yourself: Black Friday for travellers is coming ...

Local tourism has become increasingly expensive, but there are great plans afoot to fix this

Journalist

Mzanzi for sho! Local is lekker!
That’s the message that’s been driven to get South Africans up off their couches, out of their front doors and travelling the length and breadth of the country in their numbers.
On Thursday, at a media launch ahead of September’s tourism month, it was revealed that domestic tourism is down by nearly 30% since 2014, with StatsSA figures showing that local one-day tourism trips have dropped by a combined 15 million trips between 2014 and 2016. 
During the same period those going on domestic holidays decreased from 47 million to 42 million. The figures for 2017, which are to be released later this year, are expected to be far worse, say those in the tourism industry.With tough economic times negatively affecting tourism, the government has now embarked on a drive to boost domestic tourism by making holiday destinations far more accessible and cheaper for South Africans.
Tourism minister Derek Hanekom, speaking to journalists in Tsitsikama in the Eastern Cape at the tourism month launch, revealed government’s strategy to get South Africans of all walks of life off their couches and out their front doors.
Key to the strategy is the “Black Friday” of travel – a discount travel booking week dedicated only to South Africans – which includes a Stokvel Travel Campaign. The campaign, in partnership with Flight Centre, encourages those from all financial walks of life to save money to travel.
Other strategies include sparking people’s interest in game parks by offering free entrance to SA National Parks for a limited period in September.
Sho’t Left Travel Week will offer discounts of up to 50% to those who book holidays between September 24-30. Although the bookings, available for multiple destinations across SA, must be made in that week they can be taken at any time, said SA Tourism CEO Sisa Ntshona.
He said the idea of the travel week came from the recently launched domestic travel campaign, It’s Your Country, Enjoy It, which was designed to get South Africans exploring all of the provinces.
Ntshona said they were asking people to be adventurous, to break out of their traditional travel comfort zones and explore. “From the Eastern Cape, to the North West and Northern Cape, we want to South Africans out and about, travelling our land, going wild and exploring.“We want to help them do this with the cool travel discount strategy, which is equivalent to a Black Friday discount shopping spree.”
He said most global economies have robust domestic tourism, but when it came to SA it was the reverse, with “domestic traveller numbers dropping significantly”.
“This leaves the country vulnerable, especially when you combine this with declining international tourism numbers.
“We want to change how South Africans view tourism and travel within the country. We know we are competing for wallets in these tough economic times, which is why we are coming up with different strategies such as the Sho’t Left Travel Week, which is exclusive to South Africans, and Stokvel Travel Campaign partnerships.”
Ntshona said the stokvel campaign was about getting people, who could not usually afford to travel, saving so that they could travel. Stokvel members will be able to buy a package from Flight Centre in advance and then pay it off monthly. 
“Instead of buying beds and fridges, people need to realise that it is also possible to save up to travel the country.”
He said the campaigns were in response to complaints by South Africans about challenges which prevented them from travelling in the country, which include affordability and a lack of different and unique holiday spots.
Hanekom said: “When it comes to domestic tourism it comes down to affordability. The stagnant growth in domestic tourism is as a result of the declining economy, which is precisely why we want to create more affordable tourism packages to get people out and about.”
He said there were numerous affordable places to travel to in South Africa which were not being explored, “especially on the east and west coasts”.
The Travel Week deals, which will be advertised at the beginning of September, can be booked on the Sho’t Left website.

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