Tourists watch a giraffe in Kruger National Park . Picture: THE TIMES
Tourists watch a giraffe in Kruger National Park . Picture: THE TIMES

South African Tourism has entered into a partnership with the National Stokvel Association of SA (Nasasa) to boost domestic leisure travel and make it more accessible to the country’s millions of stokvel members.

Recent studies show there are more than 11.4-million individual stokvel members belonging to more than 811,000 groups. Collectively, stokvels are said to save R44bn per year.

South African Tourism says it will soon be interacting with key stokvel leaders in the hope of encouraging their members to invest in domestic travel.

"Domestic tourism is very critical for the economy and GDP … but we are facing difficult economic times and the perception is that travelling locally is expensive…

"We hope the partnership with the stokvel association will help," Debbie Damant, country manager for South African Tourism, said on Monday.

SA’s domestic tourism was growing relatively steadily from a global perspective, she said. It generated R8.8bn in revenue in the first quarter of 2016. The target for the year was R24.6bn, said Damant.

Nasasa chief operating officer Mizi Mtshali said: "To many of our members, the prospect of travel is intimidating as it is seen to be reserved for the elite.

"This partnership [with South African Tourism] aims to challenge this perception and encourage domestic travel among stokvel groups. "By dissecting various group packages, we are able to determine what each member’s monthly contribution would be towards that travel opportunity."

The Department of Tourism’s domestic tourism growth strategy for 2012 to 2020 states that the biggest inhibiting factor to domestic tourism is the perception that travel is not affordable.

The department said in 2015 that about 48% of the adult population could not afford to travel. Local trips declined from 25.4-million in 2012 to 19.8-million trips in 2014. Revenue dropped from R21.8bn in 2012 to R18.5bn in 2014.

In 2016, the department allocated R110m to South African Tourism to promote domestic tourism. Among several other initiatives, a series of television adverts have been produced, telling the stories of South Africans travelling the country for the first time.

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