The SA tourism industry is an indolent, slow-to-rise giant, hamstrung by lack of common purpose and an inadequate marketing budget. That’s the assessment of the palpably frustrated CE of the Southern Africa Tourism Services Association, David Frost, who believes passionately that with more "synergies" and a greater collective effort, it could be so different. "All this pain [over the visa debacle and the poor press SA attracts] is self-inflicted," he says. "We’ve gone backwards. Our brand now is not just smelly, it’s toxic. "You have stories of people being turned away at airports [because of visa problems]. Parents start shouting and children start crying. It’s an entire gedoente. Passengers waiting to be served start to take notice, heads turn. What you have, in effect, is a public relations disaster." Frost compares the SA tourist sector to Australia’s, which is significantly bigger, better-resourced and more internationally competitive. But there are several compelling similarit...

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