Reitumetse Makwea

By Reitumetse Makwea


Big things expected of new SA Tourism board, CEO

The recent appointment of new board members to South African Tourism (SAT) has sparked optimism and garnered positive reactions.

After facing significant challenges due to the Covid pandemic and subsequent travel restrictions, the country’s tourism industry is showing promising signs of recovery.

The recent appointment of new board members to South African Tourism (SAT) has sparked optimism and garnered positive reactions from stakeholders across the sector.

ALSO READ: SA’s tourism soars despite our visa mess

Despite being one of the hardest-hit sectors, international arrival figures for January to November last year show tourism’s rising momentum.

The Meeting Africa trade show was held at the Sandton Convention Centre and since then, travel bodies have been feeling hopeful.

Tourism Minister Patricia de Lille has said government is working to improve intercontinental travel. In a move aimed at revitalising the tourism sector, Cabinet has approved the appointment of a full SAT board, and the appointment of Nombulelo Guliwe as the body’s chief executive for five years.

The announcement was met with enthusiasm from stakeholders, who expressed optimism about the potential of the newly appointed members to steer the sector towards recovery and growth.

Rosemary Anderson, national chair of the Federated Hospitality Association of SA, emphasised the significance of the long-awaited appointment of the board and CEO in advancing South Africa’s tourism industry, a crucial driver of job creation and economic growth.

She applauded the minister and interim board for their dedication to private sector collaboration, recognising the complexity of the tourism ecosystem and the necessity for unified efforts.

“We are confident the new board and CEO will be strong advocates for the industry and will work closely with us to develop and implement effective strategies to grow tourism,” she added.

Anderson said the industry was looking forward to collaborating with the new SAT leadership on several fronts, including marketing the country as a premier tourist destination, enhancing the visitor experience, boosting domestic tourism and fostering job creation, especially for youth and women.

But Guliwe’s appointment might not be universally applauded. SAT has not had a chief executive since May 2021 and Guliwe was one five people who held the position as acting CEO.

ALSO READ: Visa backlogs threaten billions in investments and tourism revenue

There have been reports in which employees at SAT said the working environment was unbearable and “they cannot report it to the union because union leaders are Guliwe’s friends”.

According to IOL, in a letter to various media houses, the employees said their concerns were disregarded and “as a result, many of us good and talented employees work in fear due to the executive’s behaviour, especially Guliwe”.

However, SA Tour Operators’ Nomzamo Dube said the appointment of seasoned professionals to key positions was a positive step towards rebuilding the industry and strengthening local tourism.

“We look forward to working closely with the new board to unlock the full potential of South Africa’s tourism offerings.”

To rebuild the tourism industry, “we need strong leadership and strategic vision”, she said.

“The appointment of the new board members instils confidence and sends a clear message to the global travel community that South Africa is open for business.

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