All the different avenues of promoting tourism are worth taking note of. In particular I note expatriates who have made South Africa their home. These ‘settlers’ in our country do an enormous amount of good public relations for us. Typically they have lived in here for 10 to 30 years and have really made this their primary home. Many have businesses and agricultural interests and then of course there are the retirees.
Frequently these fellow lovers of South Africa bring their friends out and are constantly telling their network of the happiness of their lives here. This is a major positive factor for our tourism industry.
Furthermore, our expatriate friends are typically very adventurous and love to discover our land. It is through this spirit of adventure that they visit so many of our well known and less-charted gems. They then take their visitors to these places and so the country gets known by a small but very effective publicity network.
This contrasts with many of our born-and-bred South African émigrés who seem to constantly promote the negative, pushing out sad jokes and boringly adverse situations to justify their own decisions to emigrate. I am faced with this barrage on Facebook from many of my own network of émigrés.
Of course , I must at this point balance my previous comment : On the other end of the scale are the South African émigrés who are now slightly “homesick” and bring small groups of friends and family out every year – these faithful friends of Africa have long got over the reasons for their change of land and have made successes of their new lives and enjoy their tales of Africa and take the greatest joy in arranging these trips which sometimes include their visiting ‘home’ for up to six weeks… wonderful J
On the other hand our expatriate community are so thrilled and enthused about our land!
We have all met them …. Those who work in the tourism industry in particular we rely on hugely! Those guides that we use (because we are not a nation that has studied foreign languages as a necessity), and rely heavily on to promote and make a holiday ‘one of a lifetime’ for so many of our tourists. Chinese, Japanese, French, German, Spanish, Turkish, Hebrew, Arabic and so on. Then there are the General Managers of our wonderful hotels – many are also immigrants – who also contribute such a lot to the great quality and value we are so proud of in South Africa. And of course the many tour operators who work in the markets that need this language skill – they are great promoters and are extremely successful in bringing in thousands of tourists. Their understanding and knowledge of their motherlands’ is a huge plus in creating the offering that the customer needs.
As we all know, it is getting more and more difficult to be an immigrant worker in South Africa. Work visas are expensive and difficult to obtain and less and less migrants with language skills are landing on our shores. We in the travel game all know that we have to keep the pool going, it is a subject that we are all working on and a subject of discussion around many boardroom tables!
I salute this community of influential linguists that we have the pleasure of knowing, who work with passion to promote our country and our products. And finally: …. as we have been recently reminded – it all began with Jan Van Riebeeck!
Linda Pampallis – CEO Thompsons Africa