The Tourism industry is booming. From Cape Town to Cairo, tourism numbers have been increasing year on year. In fact, for the seventh straight year the sector has outperformed the global economy! New hotel chains, resorts and restaurants have popped up in locations across the country and globe- bringing dynamic, rewarding new career opportunities. Thinking of jumping on the bandwagon and getting involved? Studying an international tourism programme is your first step to success!

 Here are 5 Benefits of ITH International Tourism Programmes:

  1. Internationally Recognized

Local may be lekker, but not when it comes to global travel ambitions! The tourism industry spans borders, oceans and continents-  a truly international, cosmopolitan affair. Don’t limit yourself to a small corner of it! From the bustling restaurants of New York City to the palm fringed beach resorts of Thailand, our UK-registered ITHSA tourism programmes are valued and recognized internationally. The result? Plenty of opportunities to work abroad in a variety of tourism industries and locations. The world is your oyster!


  1. Professional Associations

The saying goes- you are the company you keep! We take this literally. The ITHSA is associated with professional industry leaders and benefits from relationships with CTH- a leading professional membership and awarding body in the UK. CTH has partnerships with major international employers and academic institutions and this helps us keep industry standards high and courses relevant.

  1. University Recognition

Always wanted degree status? In the eyes of International universities, you’re almost there! The ITHSA’s portfolio of CTH qualifications is considered equivalent to degree-level studies. If you have achieved one of these, you can enter the second or final year of a range of tourism and hospitality degree programmes overseas and convert to a degree. Hello bragging rights!

  1. Flexible Options

Variety is the spice of life when studying an ITH tourism programme! You can study anything from Tourism Management Programmes to Culinary Programmes and Short Courses in VA Earth and Ticketing. There are study options at various levels and academic stages-foundation to postgraduate. Furthermore, you have the option to study full – time or part- time depending on your unique preferences and needs.

  1. Employment Opportunities

With an ITH International Tourism course, you’ll get your foot in the door. CTH has developed great working relationships with a multitude of companies in the tourism and hospitality sector, providing a level of industry endorsement for our programmes that adds value when applying for jobs. With an international reputation, associated hotels and industry brands will be more likely to employ you!


Thinking of studying an International Tourism Programme? ITHSA has a range of Tourism courses perfect for you. Visit for more info:

A Travel Agent earns an average salary of R115,290 per year. Most people with this job move on to other positions after 20 years in this career. Experience has a moderate effect on pay for this job.


Job Description for Travel Agent

A travel agent assists individuals or groups of persons in planning and booking travel. This can include facilitating ticket purchases for transportation, reserving accommodations, and renting cars. Travel agents can also assist people in booking vacation packages, tours, and visits to specific locations of interest. Agents typically make money by earning commissions for booking these arrangements from the providers themselves.

One of the main tools at a travel agent’s disposal is permissions that allow them to access in real-time variable data. Agents typically work with individuals to help design custom trips, which may include multiple destinations, transportation modes, and sightseeing plans. The agent may also be able to recommend packaged tours that help consumers in this planning stage. While the career field of a travel agent has been somewhat compromised by the advent of self-booking websites, there are still many travel agents who do very well. Agents must be flexible and able to offer a variety of concierge services. By providing this customer services which travel websites cannot, an agent can still flourish.

Beyond this aptitude for customer service, general travel knowledge, and computer skills, there are a few formal education requirements for this job. Therefore, programs in vocational schools and community colleges related to the career do exist and may be helpful. (Copyright 2018

Travel Agent Tasks

  • Respond to incoming requests and conduct research on travel planning and itinerary customization.
  • Draft service contracts for group travel.
  • Build rapport with individual customers to secure new clients and maintain a consistent customer base.
  • Provide counseling and support for customer requests, and review documents for accuracy.


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What is ecotourism? How does it work? Why does it matter? And how can we, as travelers, put the core principles of ecotourism into practice?

In recent years, the growth of interest in responsible travel has outpaced that of traditional sun/sand tourism by an increasingly wide margin.

With some experts estimating that ecotourism now represents 11.4% of all consumer spending, these sorts of questions have become more and more common. And, as we continue to see more negative impacts of mass tourism on beloved destinations around the world, the answers to these questions will become increasingly vital.

Part of the confusion surrounding sustainable travel is the plethora of names being used for it within the industry.

Ecotourism, a movement that began to take shape back in the 1980s, is the oldest and most commonly used word for it. More recent industry buzzwords include green travel, nature travel, responsible travel, ethical travel, mindful travel, conscious travel, pro-poor tourism, and many others.

Regardless of what you call it, the central concepts that these philosophies share in common are that the travel industry as a whole should adopt more environmentally friendly practices, protect the natural and cultural heritage of a destination, and support local communities.

With the United Nations designating 2017 as the International Year of Sustainable Tourism for Development, this seems like a great time to deepen the conversation about what ecotourism is and why it’s important for the future of travel.

Here we’ll explain the definition of ecotourism, examine its history and evolution, explore its core principles and benefits, and look at 10 ways that each of us as responsible travelers can ensure our adventures ultimately make a positive impact.


According to The Oxford English Dictionary, the word “ecotour” was first recorded in 1973, followed by “ecotourism” in 1982.

There, the word is defined as, “Tourism to areas of ecological interest (typically exotic and often threatened natural environments), especially to support conservation efforts and observe wildlife; spec. access to an endangered environment controlled so as to have the least possible adverse effect.”

Ecotourism was perhaps best defined in 1990 by Megan Epler Wood, the co-founder of The International Ecotourism Society (TIES) and author of six influential books on the subject. Her latest, Sustainable Tourism on a Finite Planet: Environmental, Business and Policy Solutions, was released in 2017.

Now the director of the International Sustainable Tourism Initiative at Harvard, Epler Wood’s original definition was more simple and to the point. She described ecotourism as, “Responsible travel to natural areas that conserves the environment and improves the well-being of local people.”

In other words, in order to be considered truly eco-friendly, ecotourism must make a positive impact on both the ECOlogy and ECOnomy of a given destination.

One mistake many people make is assuming that ecotourism is all about conserving nature and wildlife by any means necessary. But if a destination or business’ tourism development strategy does not actively provide concrete financial benefits for the indigenous people, it’s not truly ecotourism.

Other NGOs, such as The Center for Responsible Travel (CREST, whose co-founder Dr. Martha Honey also served as the Executive Director of TIES for four years), have since expanded on Epler Wood’s concept to provide more in-depth definitions of ecotourism.

CREST currently defines ecotourism as, “Responsible travel to natural areas that conserves the environment, socially and economically sustains the well-being of local people, and creates knowledge and understanding through interpretation and education of all involved (including staff, travelers, and community residents).”

Other responsible travel organizations may have their own take on what ecotourism is, but these three are the most significant definitions.


Ecotourism’s earliest origins arguably began with the Sierra Club’s Outing program. Launched in 1901, these annual expeditions took hikers into the Sierra Nevada’s backcountry in order to show members natural wonders, “so that those persons could become active workers for the preservation of the forests.”

The modern movement began to take root in the environmental activism of the 1970s. Some sources suggest that the term ecotourism was originally coined by Mexican architect-turned-environmentalist Héctor Ceballos-Lascuráin. He used the word to describe traveling to undisturbed areas in order to enjoy their natural beauty and culture.

In 1981 Ceballos-Lascuráin became the founding president of the Mexican Association for the Conservation of Nature, the most influential Mexican NGO in the conservation arena. In 1984 he founded the first Mexican ecotourism agency, ECOTOURS.

His 315-page book on Tourism, Ecotourism, and Protected Areas was published in 1996 by the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN). He served for many years as an Ecotourism Advisor to both the IUCN and United Nations World Tourism Organization.

Megan Epler Wood was another one of the ecotourism movement’s earliest adopters. She was a young wildlife biologist hired by World Wildlife Fund founder (and former EPA director) Russell Train right out of grad school in the early ’80s.

Their all-star team at the time also included Russell Mittermeier (now President of Conservation International) and Thomas Lovejoy, who’s known as the “godfather of biodiversity.”

“In the 1980s the idea of sustainable development was new,” Epler Wood recalls. “There was a big conversation about finding ways to benefit local people who wanted to conserve natural areas. A few years later my husband and I lived in Colombia on a joint Fulbright scholarship. [We realized that] people visiting the rainforest were bringing a majority of the benefits those locals were seeing.”


After she returned home in 1988, Epler Wood went on to produce The Environmental Tourist for PBS. She started pitching conservation NGOs a documentary on ecotourism that would be “the very first global investigation of how tourism could contribute to conservation of natural resources and local well-being.”

When that project lost its funding, she tapped into her contacts and started The International Ecotourism Society. The organization’s goal was to contribute to the development of ecotourism as a viable tool for conservation, protection of bio-cultural diversity, and sustainable community development.

Epler Wood left TIES in 2002 to start her own consulting firm. She was replaced by Dr. Martha Honey, the veteran journalist/historian who wrote the seminal book, Ecotourism and Sustainable Development: Who Owns Paradise? in 1999. She was Executive Director of the organization from 2003 to 2006, and eventually founded the Center for Responsible Travel in Washington, DC.

I had the pleasure of interviewing Dr. Honey during a keynote presentation at the TBEX Travel Blogging Conference in Cancun, Mexico in 2014. When I asked about the changes she’s seen in the ecotourism industry over the past 20 years, Dr. Honey insisted that they were positive for the most part.

“It hasn’t lost or changed its core values, which are essentially that tourism should be done in a way that’s beneficial to environmental conservation and local communities and respectful of local cultures… The Slow Food movement, organic agriculture, travel philanthropy, concern about human trafficking and child sexual abuse, fair trade, carbon offsets, and animal welfare are all branches on the original tree.”

There have been countless other ecotourism icons over the past 30 years, from Jonathan Tourtellot (NatGeo’s Destination Stewardship Center) and Jeff Greenwald (founder of Ethical Traveler) to eco-design authority Hitesh Meta.

Now ecotourism is considered one of the fastest-growing sectors in the travel industry (about 5% annually), accounting for around 6% of the world’s gross domestic product. Even as the market for traditional tourism grew stagnant, the UNWTO’s global forecast projected rapid growth in the ecotourism industry over the next decade.


Ecotourism is essentially all about bringing nature/wildlife conservationists, local communities, and the responsible travel industry together to ensure development focused on long-term sustainability rather than short-term profits.

The goal is to develop tourist accommodations, activities, and attractions that benefit everyone involved– the local flora/fauna, the local people, travel industry stakeholders, and travelers alike.

With this mission in mind, the ecotourism industry has collectively developed a number of core guiding principles over the past few decades. Although international regulation and accreditation have remained elusive, these guidelines provide a general blueprint for responsible tourism development.

Many of these principles align with those of the Global Sustainable Tourism Council, which developed an extensive list of criteria for sustainable destinations, hotels, and tour operators.


Education is a key aspect of ecotourism initiatives, for locals and visitors alike. Most of these efforts are focused on improving awareness, sensitizing people to environmental issues, and encouraging them to be conscious of their impact on the places they visit.

Some tour operators create conservation education programs for local schools. Many offer interpretative guides, naturalists, and guest lecturers to help deepen travelers’ understanding of their experiences.

Immersive interactions with local cultures are also becoming increasingly common. These experiences often emphasize interaction rather than a typical performer-audience relationship with visitors.


Remember the old environmental adage, “Take only pictures, leave only footprints”? Today’s ecotourism industry strives to take it one step further.

The focus is all about sustainability, minimizing the negative carbon footprint travel often leaves on the environment. But these days the big picture goal is to create positive, rather than merely neutral impact.

From using alternative energy sources and ensuring all building materials are locally sourced to limiting tour group sizes, conscious consideration should be made to ensure low impact at every stage, from development to implementation.


The idea of using the revenue generated by ecotourism to help fund the conservation of nature and wildlife is not a new idea. In fact, it dates back more than 100 years, to the creation of the US National Parks Service.

Referred to by documentarian Ken Burns as “America’s Best Idea,” this concept has since been applied to more than 6,000 national parks in nearly 100 different countries around the world.

When managed properly, ecotourism can help provide a revenue-generating alternative to urbanization, deforestation, unsustainable agriculture, and poaching. And though critics claim ecotourism often fails to deliver on its promise, recent scientific studies continue to illustrate its conservation benefits.


Critics have similarly pointed out that some ecotourism initiatives have created more problems for local people than they solve. Poorly managed programs can lead to conflicts over land and resources, unfair profit distribution, and cultural exploitation.

This is what happens when the phenomenon known as greenwashing– the disinformation disseminated by an organization so as to present an environmentally responsible public image– rears its ugly head.

True ecotourism MUST provide financial benefits to local people, whether through direct (tours, admission fees, and donations) or indirect means (such as taxes on travel or accommodation). It generally works best when there is smaller scale, slower growth, and greater involvement by local communities in all steps of the tourism development process.


Ecotourism initiatives should always strive to support human rights, economic empowerment, and democratic movements in a given destination.

In addition to increasing awareness about sociopolitical and environmental issues facing a given destination, ecotourism initiatives should support local businesses and the rights of indigenous inhabitants to control their land and assets.

This principle is arguably the most problematic and contentious. Should tour companies or travelers boycott a given destination due to human rights abuses or unfair treatment of its indigenous population? In many cases, such boycotts don’t punish the powers-that-be nearly as harshly as the locals who rely heavily on tourism revenue to survive.


Becoming a more responsible traveler is the best way to ensure your adventures are positive for the local people and the planet.

When the core principles of ecotourism are applied, it can stimulate financial growth in developing nations, strengthening the global economy.

Individually, one person taking these baby steps to going green might not seem to make much of an impact. But if we all take simple strides towards being more conscious of our choices, collectively we can make a world of difference. Here’s how!


Lightening up your load saves money on baggage fees and increases plane fuel-efficiency.

Pack items that can be washed in the sink and are quick drying so they can be worn multiple times during your trip.

We recommend (but do not receive compensation from) the ExOfficio brand, and wear it everywhere we travel.


Take shorter showers, turn off the faucet while shaving and brushing your teeth, and re-use towels for multiple days.

And NEVER use the hotel laundry, as they typically wash each guest’s clothes separately, even if there are only a few items.



When you leave your hotel room, turn off the lights, heat/AC and TV.

Consider leaving the “Do Not Disturb” sign on the door so that the housekeeping staff won’t clean your room every day.

This will save on harsh chemical cleaning supplies and the electricity of vacuuming and washing bed linens.


Take a BPA-free water bottle you can refill, use just one bar of soap for both sink and shower.

Return brochures and maps once you’re finished using them, and hold on to your trash until you find a place to recycle it.


Seek out indigenous artisans and learn about their craft.

When we were in the Riviera Maya near Coba, we saw tons of assembly line art.

But instead we wound up buying from a man who taught local children and tourists the ancient craft of Mayan pottery and distributed profits equally among families in his village.


Stick to marked trails to avoid harming native flora, and consider taking a bag to pick up trash along your journey.

Not only is it a great way to help keep the outdoors beautiful, but it also protects wildlife that might eat or get tangled in the garbage.


Take time to immerse yourself in the local music, art and cuisine. Embrace the cultural differences that make it unique.

Get to know the locals and how they view life. You might be surprised at the things you learn when you open your mind to new ideas!


Some cultures have very different traditions from yours.

Women are forbidden to show skin in some Muslim countries. For some, being photographed in like having your soul stolen.

Understand and respect these traditions, or risk offending the people whose culture you’re there to experience.

Traveling gives you a unique experience that stays with you for the rest of your life.

In return, consider giving something back, such as bringing school supplies on tours in which you know you’ll interact with locals.


Read labels, and ask questions like “What is this item made from?”

All over the planet people sell items made from non-sustainable hardwoods, endangered species, and ancient artifacts.

It may be alright in their country to sell them, but you can still vote with your wallet by refusing to buy them.



To quote CREST founder Dr. Martha Honey during our Keynote session at TBEX Cancun in 2014, we earnestly believe that ecotourism is “simply a better way to travel.” Here’s a look at how this transformational approach to travel benefits conservation, increases cross-cultural understanding, and ultimately turns travelers into environmental advocates:


To see how ecotourism benefits nature and wildlife, let’s look at endangered species such as African Elephants. Ivory from Elephant tusks is worth $1500 a pound on the black market, which has led to a dramatic increase in poaching.

But Elephants are worth 76 times more alive than dead. When you consider the revenue from wildlife photography tours, luxury safari camps, and other ecotourism offerings, a single Elephant is worth $1.3 million over the course of its lifetime!

Other heavily poached species, such as Lions and Rhinos, have shown to be similarly valuable alive. Ecotourism offers a long-term alternative to exploitation, generating sustainable revenue and ensuring better overall health of the ecosystem.


Nature reserves and national parks help prevent deforestation and pollution, while also protecting the habitat of endemic species.

The revenue that ecotourism provides can help replace profits from exploitative practices such as mining or slash ‘n’ burn agriculture. It can also help ensure the long-term financial viability of the area.

Naturalist guides also help travelers understand the value of a pristine ecosystem, and teach them about the importance of conservation. This ultimately help to create a more mindful and conscious legion of travelers.


When managed properly, ecotourism can offer locals alternative revenue streams. In wildlife-rich countries such as Rwanda, former poachers are often employed as guides or trackers, capitalizing on their knowledge of the animals and their habitat.

In Costa Rica, unemployment has fallen to less than 10% since the country started building its ecotourism infrastructure in the 1970s. The country now enjoys the highest standard of living in Central America.

Involving local communities in tourism management empowers them by ensuring that more revenue is reinvested locally. Ecotourism also offers indigenous peoples an opportunity to remain on ancestral land, conserve it, and preserve traditional culture.


In the words of United Nations Secretary General Talib Rifai, the Year of Sustainable Tourism provided “a unique opportunity to advance the contribution of the tourism sector to the three pillars of sustainability– economic, social and environmental– while raising awareness of the true dimensions of a sector which is often undervalued.”

Sure, being a responsible traveler takes a greater level of commitment to being conscious and mindful of the impact we have on the destinations we visit. But ecotourism also offers us incredible, transformative experiences, allowing us to develop closer personal relationships to the nature, wildlife, and local people we encounter during our adventures.

Learning about ecotourism during my life-changing experience in South Africa in 2000 permanently changed my understanding of mankind’s role in our planetary ecosystem. And I firmly believe that, once you’ve had that sort of travel experience, you’ll never want to travel the traditional way again. –Bret Love; photos by Bret Love & Mary Gabbett unless otherwise noted


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It’s a style catch-22: The “airport outfit” has to be comfortable enough for sitting on a plane for at least several hours (in terms of climate control and soft-stretchiness), but also pulled-together enough that you can deplane at your destination ready to hit the ground running. We turned to 11 globe-trotting style-setters for tips and inspiration on just how to pull of this tricky fashion feat.

Our Number One Priority on Each and Every Educational Student Tour: Safety

Whether you’re traveling across the country or across the globe, Son Tours takes student travel safety very seriously. As a result, we have numerous measures in place on each and every trip to ensure you receive the highest level of safety possible, regardless of your destination. Below, we’ve listed the different types of safety measures in place on each of our excursions.

Student Travel Safety Starts With Us: Day & Night Guidance from a Son Tours Representative

When you book a tour with us, you will be assigned an experienced Son Tours representative who will work with your group leader and chaperones to ensure that your trip is as seamless as possible. This person will be with you every step of the way, even staying in the same hotel as your group, making them easy to access if you have any questions or concerns. As all of our staff members have impressive backgrounds, ranging from military careers, security, government, and even former CIA experience, whichever of our representatives accompany you will be skilled and ready to handle any type of safety or security situation that may arise. We ensure that all of our representatives are highly trained in emergency preparedness, so if anything happens, they will be ready to assess and respond to the situation at hand.

We Keep You in the Loop: Student Safety Briefings and Cell Phone Access

Every trip is accompanied by safety and security briefing before your students ever leave home as well as during the excursion. We want all of our students to have the information they need to stay safe as they explore the educational opportunities available to them in our many destinations, so we make sure to offer these briefings at multiple points prior to departure as well as throughout the trip.

In addition, we recognize that almost all of the students on our trips have cell phones and that parents prefer they keep these phones on them to check in while they are away from home. This enables students to touch base with their families at appropriate times during the tour, alleviating many worries about safety that parents may face when students are away. Of course, we do expect our students to use these phones responsibly and refrain from using them at inappropriate times, such as during guided tours, presentations, or plays. For students on international tours, group leaders will be given a phone that can call overseas, enabling parents to get in touch with students at all times even if students do not have international phone plans or satellite phones.

We Get Dedicated Security Professionals Involved: Private Security in Hotels and Motor Coaches

We don’t only rely on our trained, safety-conscious representatives and the information we provide to parents, chaperones, group leaders, and students. We also provide private, uniformed security. These security personnel will be positioned on every hotel floor and on motor coaches in order to keep your students safe.

We Expect the Unexpected: Insurance Included on All Son Tours Trips

We make sure that if the worst does happen, we’ll have you covered, whether a group faces an unexpected accident, illness, natural disaster, or other situation that requires emergency assistance of varying sorts. All of our overnight packages include insurance that covers:

  • Emergency Evacuation/Repatriation
  • Accidents and Illnesses
  • Emergency Dental
  • Travel Assistance
  • Travel Delays

We want to make sure that students make it home safe and sound with a plethora of new experiences and a wealth of knowledge to share, so we make sure to have plenty of insurance coverage in case the unthinkable happens.

Student Travel Safety is Critical from Beginning to End

Student safety is our number one priority, and we take that very seriously, which is why we keep it in mind from the start of your partnership with us until the very end. From the people we hire to the policies we put into place, we make sure that students can stay safe throughout their travel experiences and parents can feel at ease. Feel free to contact us to learn more about our high-quality student and educational travel safety measures.


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Freedom Day is a South African public holiday celebrated on 27 April, the date, which marks freedom and commemorates the first post-apartheid elections held on that day in 1994.

The first democratic elections were the first non-racial national elections held in SA, and regardless of how difficult things still seem in SA, nothing will be as bad as denying specific South Africans the right to cast their vote.

It’s a good idea to head back to SA’s roots on Freedom Day – not only to remember the bitter history and wrongs of the past, but to celebrate just how far we’ve come as a nation in building bridges to a better future for everyone.

We’re still in the process, that’s for certain, but we need to acknowledge the good achieved to keep us motivated, to keep SA going forward.

It’s not necessary for you to hang out in the Apartheid museum all day, but be sure to be in a space where you can be reminded of the privilege of living in a free country.

1. Take a trip to Robben Island 

If you’ve never been, now is the time.

The island has also recently launched an app in partnership with Google Maps, which will enable visitors to experience the island on their own time, with an audio playing ‘tour guide’ in hand.

2. Feel Soweto

There are plenty of ways to take a trip into this cultural hub of the country.

If anything, it has become so much more than the only street in the world to have houses two Nobel Peace Prize winners – which in itself is an astounding fact. It’s a living, breathing pulse of kasi life in South Africa and there are plenty of other must-sees in this urban city.

You can also opt for a organized tour with either or City Sightseeing, and you’ll be sure to hit all the sweet spots.

3. Go to Franschhoek

It’s both a cultural hub, filled with history from long before Freedom Day. But this also happens to be the place closest to where Nelson Mandela spent his last days in prison. The private house on the Victor Verster premises (now the Drakenstein Correctional Facility) where Mandela lived has been declared a South African National Heritage Site, and a statue of Mandela stands just outside the prison gates.

You can stop by before heading into Franschhoek for a Freedom Day lunch.

4. Visit the Apartheid museum 

This iconic museum it voted as one of the favourite in SA, and will give you deep insight into the wrongs of the Apartheid era, as well as the good that overcame that evil regime.

5. Go for a braai at Mzoli’s

Get out there and celebrate FREEDOM with fellow South Africans. There’s no need to go to Mzoli’s specifically, as you can just as well host a braai with friends at home. If you’re looking for good company, however, Mzoli’s will serve this, along with the best Shisanyama around.

6. Visit Lilliesleaf Farm in Rivonia

Once the nerve centre of the liberation movement and a place of refuge for its leaders, today Liliesleaf is one of South Africa’s foremost, award-winning heritage sites, where the journey to democracy in South Africa is honoured.

“Liliesleaf has always been a place of dialogue. In the early 1960s, when the property was the headquarters for covert, underground activities and a safe house for many leading figures of the liberation movement, debates on political and military policy and strategy were commonplace. People from diverse backgrounds but with a common vision met here to discuss South Africa’s emancipation from an oppressive apartheid regime.”

7. Attend a proudly South African festival 

The country is your oyster is this category.

You can either hit the Tankwa Karoo for the iconic AfrikaBurn…

…or head down the Garden Route for SA’s Gay extravaganza that is the highly-celebrated Pink Loerie Fest…

…or join the cheese & wine lovers at this years’ Cheese Festival held outside Stellenbosch on Sandringham Farm.

8. Visit the Nelson Mandela Capture site

This is one of the most beautiful of the remembrance sites in South Africa. This sculpture in Howick in KwaZulu Natal is an interactive area where you can reminisce alone or spend time with your loved ones. The beautiful green surrounds add to the display that becomes Madiba’s face as you walk closer.

9. Hang out in Sandton at the feet of the father of our nation

The Nelson Mandela square boasts a six-meter tall sculpture of Madiba (which is almost as big as he was…). Here, while you go about your daily business of shopping and grabbing a bite to eat, you will be in the presence of this icon looking down on passersby.

10. Enjoy the country’s public gardens

In the light of South Africans celebrating every national symbol and significant SA features, why not head to Kirstenbosch to see to most magnificent display of our national flower (the protea) and tree (the yellowwood)?

You can also head to the equally impressive botanical gardens of Durban or Johannesburg, or the smaller ones in Betty’s Bay, Stellenbosch, or the beautiful ‘garden’ that is the south coast and sunshine coast as a whole!

The tourism sector employed 686 596 persons in 2016, Statistician-General Risenga Maluleke said on Monday.

This, according to Maluleke, is an increase of 2.7% percent or 17 945 employees compared to 2015.

According to Stats SA, the tourism sector share of total employment increased from 4.2% in 2015 to 4.4% in 2016. The tourism sector directly contributed 2.9% to South African gross domestic product (GDP) in 2016.

Releasing the Tourism Satellite Report (TSA) at a media briefing in Tshwane, Maluleke said there were 15 121 328 non-resident visitors to South Africa in the year 2016 compared with 13 951 901 in 2015 and 14 529 542 in 2014.

Of the non-resident visitors in 2016, 5 077 165 were same-day visitors and 10 044 163 were tourists.

“Tourism direct gross domestic product (TDGDP) increased from R108 683 million in 2015 to R125 136 million in 2016 (15.1% increase).”

Maluleke said inbound tourism expenditure totalling R121 400 million was recorded in 2016.

“The main expenditure items were non-specific products (28.1%), accommodation for visitors (15%), connected products (13.4%) and road passenger transport services (11.9%).

“Domestic tourism expenditure totalling R144 358 million (including the domestic portion of outbound tourism expenditure) was recorded in 2016,” Maluleke said.

The main expenditure items were road passenger transport services (27.8%), non-specific products (17.3%), accommodation for visitors (14.8%) and air passenger transport services (14.3%).

The total internal tourism consumption in cash for South Africa in 2016 was R265 758 million (inbound tourism consumption R121 400 million (45.7%) and domestic tourism consumption R144 358 million (54.3%).

The main expenditure items for internal tourism were non-specific products (22.2%), road passenger transport services (20.5%), accommodation for visitors (14.9%) and air passenger transport services (13.2%).

Maluleke explained that tourism imports (outbound tourism expenditure) increased by 8% to R78 493 million compared with 6.3% growth in the previous period.

The TSA report provides an overview of the role that tourism plays in South Africa and also information on the contribution by tourism sector to the economy in terms of expenditure and employment. –

Tourism Minister Derek Hanekom says millions of South Africans and international tourists continue to visit and travel around South Africa, despite the current water crisis.

“We appreciate the responsiveness and respect shown by our visitors in helping us deal with one of the worst droughts experienced in our country,” Minister Hanekom said.

He said the continued innovation in water-wise initiatives has been remarkable, with new and progressive solutions introduced on an ongoing basis.

Minister Hanekom welcomed the announcement by the Co-operative Governance and Traditional Affairs Minister Zweli Mkhize that the worst drought-affected areas would have access to national disaster funds and other forms of assistance.

Minister Hanekom congratulated all South Africans and both local and international travellers on achieving what is being hailed as a global first in terms of the extent to which water consumption is reduced during a drought.

The additional funds will allow these efforts to continue in all affected parts of the country, particularly in Cape Town.

Awareness has changed consumer behaviour to respect the reality that South Africa is a water-scarce country and that water should never be wasted.

“We are delighted that tourists and travellers to South Africa continue to be part of the solution by embracing new and innovative water-wise tourism practices.

“Congratulations to our tourism agencies, the travel trade as well as our tourists and communities at large for rising to the challenge.

“More importantly, I encourage all tourists, both local and international, to enjoy the experiences our beautiful South Africa has to offer, in a way that embraces ‘Travel, Enjoy and Respect’, the United Nations World Tourism Organisation (UNWTO) message to all,” Minister Hanekom said. –


There are many factors that contribute to a guests’ enjoyable stay, however, one aspect that is often underestimated and overlooked is the housekeeping.

There are various departments in the workings of a hotel that greatly contribute to an enjoyable stay for their guests. When staying at a five star establishment, small things like a warm welcome at the door or a speedy check-in time can greatly improve a guest’s overall impression. However, one aspect of a guests’ stay that is often underestimated and overlooked is the housekeeping.

Housekeeping is a vital mechanic that has the potential to make or break an establishment’s reputation. The way in which a room is cleaned, tidied and presented to its guests is in direct relation to the level of service the hotel prides themselves on. Housekeeping provides guests with a clear indication of how they are valued.

Dependent on the rating of the hotel at which you stay, standards and the level of housekeeping may vary. Remember, hotels with various ratings may not provide the same service. However, having said this, no hotel should compromise on the cleanliness of their establishment.

Housekeeping is comprised of many different aspects such as the cleaning of guest rooms, public areas, carpets, furniture, metal wares, et cetera. For many hotels, big and small, the housekeeping staff are the unsung heroes of their establishment and more often than not go unnoticed. Housekeeping staff ensure that the rooms are cleaned daily, stocked with in-room amenities and that common areas like the reception and restaurants are presentable, tidy and welcoming.

Although housekeeping staff do not necessarily interact with their guests on a daily basis, the quality of their service is critical in moulding the experience and memories their visitors will take with them when they leave. A guest who has had a wonderful experience at a hotel will most likely return in future, ensuring customer loyalty for the business.

The role of housekeeping staff is vital for any hotel that wants to maintain a high level of success in the hospitality industry. Housekeeping is not just about cleanliness, but is in fact about the standard. It is one of the most important services a hotel can offer and therefore time should be dedicated to training staff correctly to ensure an enjoyable and pleasurable experience is had for their guests.

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2018 will see a breakthrough in five technologies for the hospitality industry. Some hotels have already acquired and tested the technologies on this list.

1. Virtual Reality can be used to market in-destination activities

Hoteliers have now realised virtual reality’s potential in the travel and tourism industry with leading hotel brands including Best Western and Marriott, having already introduced this technology to guests.

The Marriott introduced an in-destination VR service called VRoom Service which guests can use for 24 hours. The VR devices are loaded with ‘VR postcards’, which provide guests with travel inspiration, showcasing people’s first-hand travel experiences. This has the potential to encourage new holiday bookings and even experiences offered in-destination.

“By using the technology in the rooms, we’re bringing the experience to guests inside. It’s a property renovation,” says Michael Dail, Marriott’s VP of global brand marketing.

2018 will see the rise of Virtual Reality, which will become the norm for hotels. Guests will not only want to familiarize themselves with the location pre-check-in but also experience local activities before booking them.

2. IOT: Guest enabled Rooms are on the way

Hotel brands have considered IoT platforms due to better cost efficiencies and enhanced guest experience. Hilton, for example, has built a beta test room control for selected hotels.

“Imagine a world where the room knows you, and you know your room,” says Hilton CEO Christopher Nassetta at SKIFT Global Forum.

Hilton is using the DIY approach of proprietary technology which is built from the ground up instead of picking off-the-shelf technologies to implement. They are looking to build a brand-new hotel room with built-in voice control, temperature and lighting settings that are controlled via a custom app, available on the guest’s smartphone.

Despite hotelier’s reluctance to be ahead of the curve or gimmicky in their technology adoption, the signs remain strong that both brands have shown commitment and progress in IoT room technology.

3. Guest-facing technologies provide a more personalized experience

Apart from the Free Wi-Fi, personalization of the guest experience is going to be the biggest factor a hotelier needs to consider. With the availability of guest data and technologies to plug into a Hotel’s CRM, it provides tremendous intelligence information about the guest behaviour all the way from pre-trip, in stay and post trip.

IHG Study reveals that “Nearly three in five (59%) travellers say their hotel stay is significantly more comfortable if services are personalized and more than have (54%) admit it makes them feel more valued.” 

While hotels are utilizing technology to avoid private data exploitation, guest data analysis can be derived from smart guest connectivity devices. This provides more behavioural insights, which helps hoteliers offer a deeper level of personalization. Expect more developments and success in this area.

4. Digital Concierge will produce an efficient service

By 2021 the number of people using messaging apps to communicate will reach 2.5 billion according to Statista report, making messaging a primary form of communication.

According to Phocus Wright research; “39% of people surveyed said they are completely comfortable using chat to contact the hotel front desk, while only 7% said they would not be.” 

Brands such as IHG Group and Hyatt are already using third-party social media messaging platforms, while others such as Marriott have built apps to facilitate instant messaging. Notably, as hotels attempt to engage guests through this technology, travel agencies are also entering this space to drive loyalty.

Technology providers are looking to integrate chat with hotel systems. Chat communication is just another digital channel hotels can use to increase guest engagement and communication. Through a smartphone amenity with an app, for example, we should see more engagement opportunities than just to change booking details, such as pre-stay and post-stay communication.

5. AI & Chatbots lower operational costs

As Artificial intelligence (AI) & Chatbots mature we see more complex algorithms to perform complicated tasks increase, which should eliminate a lot of overhead operational costs. Finding the balance between human hospitality service and technology is going to be key as hotels try to reduce operational costs while increasing guest’s overall ratings.

“We’ve been building bots on IRC [for] many years … now it’s just that it’s on mainstream platforms,” says CEO/Co-Founder of The Bot Platform.

2018 will continue to see predictive guest technologies related to AI & Chatbots emerge and provide Hotels with the opportunity to offload tasks that hotel staff and customer support are trained to do.

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