Regional tourism body under new management, promises relevance and action
After only two months in the job, the new Chief Executive of the Regional Tourism Organisation of Southern Africa has already stirred the industry by hosting a high-level meeting in Johannesburg on Tuesday to draft the organisation’s repositioning strategy.
The ambitious target is to more than double tourist arrivals in the Southern African Development Community (SADC) from the current 2% of global tourism to 5%.
The Regional Tourism Organisation of Southern Africa (RETOSA) is a SADC institution responsible for tourism growth and development as well as marketing. It has been in existence for over 20 years. It is chaired by a Namibian, Dr Sem Shikongo, the Director for Tourism and Gaming in the Ministry of Environment and Tourism.
At Tuesday’s round table, the organisation’s new Chief Executive, Mr Desmond Golding said “the presence of very senior representatives from the private sector from the various countries today truly marks a turning point for RETOSA, and we are particularly encouraged by their contribution to the development of our strategy.”
“After a long adventure of reflection, analysis and critical re-thinking, RETOSA is now emerging as a transformed agency with a new mandate and two key objectives: to increase competitiveness of the region and an increased and improved global tourism market share for the region. This must be achieved through a smart partnership between the region’s private sector players and RETOSA in a game-changing manner through innovation and pragmatism. At the same time, the region’s tourism ministries have committed themselves to creating the enabling policy and legislative environment through the tourism coordination unit to be housed at the SADC Secretariat, a critical development. The road is clear, tourism is everyone’s business” contributed Dr Shikongo.
Forecasts see continued tourism growth in SADC of 4% year on year. The new RETOSA is tasked with taking advantage of this opportunity to increase tourism in partnership with the private sector.
“The Trans-Frontier and cross-border products with multinational benefits remain strategic with high impact. RETOSA will work strategically to complement the tourism marketing currently implemented by the different countries and not duplicate” said Golding indicating his first tentative moves to activate the RETOSA mandate.
“By championing regional collaboration, RETOSA must drive Intra-Africa Tourism because a robust domestic and regional tourism sector is essential to a thriving tourism economy in Africa.’’ added the CEO of South African Tourism, Mr Sisa Nthshona.
The new RETOSA executive management, appointed 01 June 2017 comprises Golding as CEO, Mrs Thembi Kunene-Msimang, Executive: Marketing and Communications, Mr Kenneth Racombo, Executive: Resource Mobilisation, Mr Simba Madinyanye, Executive: Research and Information Management and Mr Kevin Kenanao Masupe, Executive: Corporate Services.
The fundamental anchor for RETOSA’s vision is an understanding that tourism is an economic and trade imperative. RETOSA sees tourism and its relations to economic growth, employment creation and poverty elimination fundamentally interlinked to stimulation of investment and commerce.