South Africa and the people who unite to welcome tourists to the country are not going to be put off by the American president and his ill informed rants on social media.
In the face of escalating concerns over a Twitter post by US President Donald Trump regarding the contentious ‘land expropriation without compensation’ issue in South Africa, the SA tourism industry is united in its response, writes TourismUpdate.
The website quotes Sisa Ntshona, CEO of South African Tourism as saying “South Africa is open for business, and the current political and social dialogue is not disrupting the product and services we offer travellers”.
America’s disastrous Twitter President tweeted: “I have asked Secretary of State @SecPompeo to closely study the South Africa land and farm seizures and expropriations and the large scale killing of farmers. ‘South African government is now seizing land from white farmers’.”
The Department of International Relations and Co-operation (DIRCO) met with the US Embassy late last week to seek clarity on Trump’s views, with Minister Lindiwe Sisulu saying she would “discuss the saga” with Pompeo. “SA has good political, economic and trade relations with the United States of America, and diplomatic channels remain open to provide clarity on issues of mutual interest,” she said.
The South African tourism industry has spoken out firmly to address fears and concerns over how the perception of the effects of land expropriation without compensation could negatively impact tourism to the country.
CEO of the Southern Africa Tourism Services Association (Satsa), David Frost, says: “Clearly the SA government has to progress with the policies they deem appropriate to take the country forward – the land issue being one of those. And that process shouldn’t be contorted or obstructed in any way because of the perception and comments that people internationally may make. Having said that, we’ve gone through a learning curve in terms of the water crisis in Cape Town and the lack of a tourism-appropriate message that should’ve been communicated early on in that process.
“Certain elements amongst potential tourists to South Africa can get ‘spooked’ by erroneous comments on the land issue. As such, we need to work together through the organised private sector, in collaboration with our public-sector tourism colleagues, to craft a message that is both informative and seeks to allay any irresponsible or incorrect perceptions. This then needs to be shared with our international tour operators and agents,” continues Frost.
While land distribution is at a very sensitive stage in the dialogue, Ntshona reiterates that the topic is one that is still under discussion and debate, and freedom of movement remains unhindered for travellers and citizens alike. “We are proud of the fact that we have the most robust Constitution in the world, creating an environment for all to enjoy our country.
“We will continue to monitor the discussions around land distribution,” says Ntshona, “and are committed to updating our partners. Operators, tourists and the world can rest assured that any changes to our promise of South Africa being a safe and secure tourist destination will be communicated transparently.”