Searching for hidden treasures
SOUTH AFRICA may well be renowned for its bush, beaches and braaivleis but it appears those attributes are no longer enough to draw the international crowds. Siva Pillay, CE of Tourism Enterprise Partnership (TEP), says in the company’s first annual report that SA needs to create more unique tourism products if it wants to ensure overseas visitors keep coming back for more.
Says Pillay: “For many years tourists have flocked to SA for its diverse and abundant natural attractions. More recently, however, visitors have expressed a desire to hear the untold stories of the country’s people.”
To that end TEP last year adopted a new strategic direction, with a focus on creating world-class but unmistakably South African art, crafts, food and music experiences for visitors. Pillay says: “SA has a wealth of tourism offerings which need to be discovered, promoted and brought to market.”
TEP has aptly named the initiative “South African Hidden Treasures”. Soccer fans that descend on SA’s shores in June will hopefully get a taste of some of these newly developed heritage products and experiences, as 31 artists, crafters, musicians, storytellers and chefs have already been selected to showcase their talents via TEP’s Hidden Treasures initiative. Pillay says the 2010 Soccer World Cup is the ideal springboard to provide international visitors with an “authentic taste of SA’s rich and varied history and culture”. Pillay adds: “We have selected the finest tourism offerings that bring to life the spirit and unique flavour of Durban, Soweto, Cape Town and Nelspruit, presenting experiences which even most South Africans have never heard of.”
TEP was initially launched by the Business Trust in July 2000 as a four-year job-creation programme for SA’s tourism industry.