*Meets with NATOP pledges partnership
The Chief Executive Officer of South African Tourism, Sisa Ntshona, as part of his official visit to SAT’s West African office in Nigeria, met with the Nigeria Association of Tour Operators. During the courtesy visit, Ntshona revealed SAT’s desire to work harmoniously with NATOP for mutual benefit, especially in the areas of training, and helping the development and marketing of Nigeria’s tourism.
Ntshona, who was accompanied by SAT’s regional manager for West Africa, Hloni Pitso, and regional director for Africa, Evelyn Mahlaba, revealed SAT’s desire to help Nigerian tour operators access local South African media during their visits and in the process give exposure to Nigeria’s tourism offerings. He stressed SAT’s vision, which is to put Africa first, before South Africa. According to him, many people outside the continent see Africa as one. Using the example of the Ebola virus, he said South Africa was not insulated from the negative perception that impacted on tourism arrivals, despite trying to stress that it was six hours away by air from the epicentre of the crisis.
To this end, the annual INDABA travel exhibition hosted in Durban will have a more pan-African focus, by marketing the best Africa has to offer to the world. Ntshona also revealed SAT’s plan to market other areas of South Africa outside famous cities like Johannesburg, Cape Town, Durban and others, in a bid to bring the benefits of tourism closer to the people and help reduce rural-urban migration. He touched on the strident visa policy of South Africa, explaining that SAT would rather an easier visa regime but stating the High Commission’s responsibility to keep the country safe. “We don’t have control over them but we can influence them,” he said as he promised to discuss the issue with the relevant authority.
Speaking on behalf of NATOP’s President Nkewerem Onung, the organiser of Akwaaba African Travel Market, Ikechi Uko, explained that if a country like Morocco which is a developed tourism industry still tries to emulate South Africa and learn from them, there is nothing wrong in Nigeria taking advantage of the offer of help from SAT.
Uko then revealed that NATOP would – in the coming days – be presenting to SAT and the world at large, tourism products they would want to be sold to South Africans.