This Tourism Week: 14 February 2013


This Week:

A Responsible Travel question: how do we cultivate South Africa’s future domestic tourist

Books for tourism: Responsible travel means responsible eating. Which is why – if you love seafood – you need ‘Catch it Cook it in Southern Africa

 Follow the links above to read these articles on line – or simply scroll down…

How do we cultivate South Africa’s future domestic tourist?

So will South Africa ever get its domestic tourism act together? Or will we continue to rely on politics, speaches, and what marketing execs call (cynically, I think) ‘interventions.’

More of the same? More creative media campaigns, more pointless competitions?

I ask partly because I’m beginning to think that shouting at people and telling them that they should go on holiday is about as intelligent as, well, talking to a chain link fence: the noise goes straight through, and the fence continues – quite unmoved – doing its fencey stuff.

So, since we’re almost at the end of our annual international Responsible Travel Week, perhaps we could look at whether South Africa’s domestic tourism strategy meets the requirements for responsible tourism – which was defined by the 2002 Cape Town Declaration on Responsible Tourism in Destinations as ‘Tourism that creates better places for people to live in, and better places to visit.’

(Just an aside: according to Mossel Bay Tourism’s Marcia Holm – quoted in this article –  “In fact we’ve moved on a little from then, and the latest thinking is that the term ‘responsible travel’ is more inclusive than ‘responsible tourism,’ and that the word ‘people’ should be dropped from the definition because the concept needs to include the protection of the entire environment, and not just the people who inhabit it.”)

Could it be that we’re struggling to grow domestic tourism because we’re sitting with a deep hangover from Apartheid?

I think we need to look at this uncomfortable question: how many South Africans have had the training that all good tourists need? And if they haven’t, how can we ever expect them to become our guests?

The sad truth is that – even if it wasn’t planned that way – the Apartheid system ensured that entire generations could never enjoy the experience of travelling for travelling’s sake. (Sure, non-white Saffas travelled in the Apartheid years – as migrant labourers. Hardly what you’d do for fun, ay?)

What I’m saying is we need to start thinking very differently: more of a gentle tug than an unsubtle push.

A thought: Europe’s tourism industry got going after the Second World War because of institutions like Billy Butlin’s holiday camps. Wikipedia: “Butlins was founded by Billy Butlin to provide affordable holidays for ordinary British families.” Cheap, accessible, and open to the emerging middle class (even if it didn’t know it was emerging at the time). As a result – and two and three generations later – the British have become used to the idea of going away just for the jorl of it.

Here at home, we white South Africans had access to state-sponsored holiday resorts, and also to Parks Board rest camps. I was a child of the 60s, when accommodation in Parks Board rest camps was dirt cheap (not any more: not by fistfuls of foreign traveller Euros it isn’t).

And what did having being exposed to them achieve? It introduced generations of us to the experience of travel for travel’s sake. Which means that we’re the guys who’re now most likely to slip off to a cosy B&B or a luxurious game lodge for a weekend’s R&R. (And yes, I do understand that some people of other colours do this, too, and that some of them have been doing it for a while. But the operative word is ‘some.’) 

Maybe we need to create a culture of travel for travel’s sake.

But how?

Subsidised, old-style family holiday resorts? Would South Africa’s emerging middle class use such facilities? Enjoy them? (Mebbe, mebbe not: I’m reminded of a speaker I heard at Indaba about ten years ago – he couldn’t understand white people. “Why would you go away on holiday to a place where you don’t know anyone?”)

And the industry? Are we perhaps practicing a subtle kind of Apartheid here? I don’t see any ‘entry level’ facilities any more – everyone seems to prefer catering to ‘up market’ guests these days. So where’s the channel along which the newly-empowered become tomorrow’s seasoned holidaymakers?

Or do we just want them to stay away?

A lot of questions – and I may be doing nothing more than showing my sad lack of knowledge about other South Africans by asking them.

But is anyone asking?

I think we need to. We seriously need to.

According to Ron Mader, the founder of, the motto of Responsible Travel Week 2013 is ‘Redo, Re-Imagine, Remix.’ Is South Africa doing any of these things? And have we built the principles of responsible travel into our domestic tourism strategy?

What do you think? Please go to This Tourism Week and leave your comments for everyone to see…

And BTW: here’s an important guide to heaps of information about Responsible Travel Week:

Books for tourism: ‘Catch it Cook it in Southern Africa’

Responsible travel means responsible eating. Which is why – if you love seafood – you need Hennie Crous’s ‘Catch it Cook it in Southern Africa.’

Besides the usual stuff – bait, tackle, the habits of the fish, the recipes, the funny fishy tales – this book offers something we haven’t seen nearly enough: it explains the conservation status of each of the 30 or so species it describes, and for that reason alone it’s worth having in your guest library, and on your kitchen shelf.

Surely by now you’ve seen the distinctive SASSI (Southern African Sustainable Seafood Initiative) logo – a green, a yellow, and a red fish on a deep blue background – and you know what it’s all about educating us about which fish to buy and which to avoid so that we can ensure the sustainability of our seafood.

The greens are the best to have: they can handle current fishing pressure (green-lipped mussel, Atlantic herring, South African squid). The orange species … well, here you should think twice: Cape dory, rock cod, African catfish – they’re described as “giving reason for concern, either because the species is depleted as a result of overfishing… or the fishery that catches them may cause particularly severe environmental damage…”

And then you have the reds. Or, more correctly, you shouldn’t have the reds at all: the galjoen, the jacobever, the baardman. These are the unsustainable species, the collapsed populations, the ones that’ve been totally inappropriately managed. 

Fiona Ayerst – who represents SASSI on the Garden Route – says that the only way to get local restaurants to buy into the idea that you simply must not serve some types of fish is by educating the consumer: “If they won’t buy them, the restaurant won’t stock them.”

And this is another reason why Catch it Cook it in Southern Africa is a great book to have: it’s as much an educational resource as a cookbook, and as much a personal memoir as a guide.

 Buy it on line at the BarefootBookshop

NOTE: Fiona Ayerst is available to talk about SASSI – and which fish to eat and which to avoid – to consumer or industry groups on the Garden Route. Contact her via www.oceans-society,org, or

More information:

Now go away on holiday. It’s in the economy’s best interest 

With best Barefoot Wishes – M

MARTIN HATCHUEL, Barefoot Writer

Specialist writer for the tourism industry
Social media & advertising
Media management
Responsible tourism
Cell +27(0)84 951 0574
Fax +27(0)86 614 8853
Skype: reefgod
PO Box 2690 Knysna 6570

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