Human-resource development (HRD)
The Tourism HRD Strategy, which aims to encourage industry players to compete on the basis of excellence in HR, was launched in 2008. In October 2008, the department held the inaugural Tourism Careers Expo, which attracted 17 000 visitors over three days. Tourism HRD is considered one of the pillars of the development of a responsible tourism culture in South Africa.
The department supports the full introduction of Travel, Tourism and Hospitality Studies as a subject in schools. Travel and Tourism was introduced in 2000 in all schools wishing to offer the subject from grades 10 to 12.
The Travel and Tourism Programme (TTP) holds an annual Tourism Schools Competition. The topic for the 2008 competition was Responsible Tourism Development, which was about how tourism should help to protect and enhance the environment, the community and the economy.
A learner and educator from Matlosana High School won an all-expenses-paid trip to Nice, France, where they attended the Global Travel and Tourism Programme (GTTP) international learner/teacher conference in November 2008. Learners and teachers from the nine GTTP member countries who attended presented their research on responsible tourism development at the conference. The topic for the 2009 competition is Sports Tourism.
Tourism and Hospitality Education and Training Authority
Theta is the Sector Education and Training Authority established under the Skills Development Act, 1998 (Act 97 of 1998) [PDF], for the Tourism, Hospitality and Sport Economic Sector. Theta comprises the following chambers:
Conservation and Tourist Guiding
Sport, Recreation and Fitness
Tourism and Travel Services
Gaming and Lotteries.
Every chamber has its own committee that helps Theta to identify industry needs.
Tourism Learnership Project (TLP)
The TLP is a multimillion rand partnership between the Business Trust, Theta and the Department of Labour. The TLP aims to raise the standards of South Africa’s tourism industry by ensuring the development of useful, transferable and accredited skills. The TLP’s three core objectives are to:
accelerate the development of national qualifications for all primary subsectors of the tourism sector
ensure the availability of national qualifications, which will trigger increased investment in training by employers
develop systems and support the training of unemployed people through learnerships that provide them with the necessary skills to find jobs.
Illegal tourist guides undermine the efforts of legitimate guides. In February 2006, the Tourism Branch of the Department of Environmental Affairs and Tourism launched a campaign against illegal guiding.
Provincial tourist-guide registrars are trained and illegal guiding is monitored, resulting in illegal guides being stopped from operating. The branch continues to work with the industry and South African Police Service (SAPS) to curb illegal guiding.
It is estimated that 2010 will require 30 662 guides, at least half of whom should be black. By mid-2007, South Africa had about 10 000 guides, with only 30% black representation. Updating the database of tourist guides and ensuring that it interfaces with provincial structures, is a priority for the department.
Hints for the tourist
Every traveller to South Africa must have a valid passport and, where necessary, a visa.
The Immigration Act, 2002 (Act 13 of 2002), stipulates that all visitors to South Africa are required to have at least one blank page (both back and front) in their passport to enable the entry visa to be issued. If there is insufficient space in the passport, entry will be denied.
Enquiries may be directed to South African diplomatic representatives abroad or to the Department of Home Affairs in Pretoria. Visas are issued free of charge. Visitors who intend travelling between South Africa and neighbouring countries are advised to apply for multiple-entry visas. Passport-holders of certain countries are exempt from visa requirements.
Tourists must satisfy immigration officers that they have the means to support themselves during their stay and that they have return or onward tickets. They must also have valid international health certificates.
Visitors from the yellow-fever belt in Africa and the United States of America (USA), as well as those who travel through or disembark in these areas, have to be inoculated against the disease.
It is essential to take anti-malaria precautions when visiting these areas. Foreign tourists visiting South Africa can have their value-added tax (VAT) refunded, provided the value of the items purchased exceeds R20. VAT is refunded on departure at the point of exit.
South Africa’s transport infrastructure – airlines, railroads, roads, luxury touring buses (coaches) and motor cars – is such that tourists can travel comfortably and quickly from their port of entry to any part of the country. A number of international airlines, including South African Airways (SAA), operate regular scheduled flights to and from South Africa. Several domestic airlines operate in the country. There are also mainline trains to all parts of the country. (See Transport.)
The tourist-accommodation industry in South Africa provides a wide spectrum of accommodation, from formal hotels to informal holiday flats and cottages, game lodges and reserves, guest houses, youth hostels and B&B establishments.
Some hotels cater for businesspeople and the high-end luxury market, but there are diverse hotels available across the country, ranging from family-centred establishments to international chains, and a growing selection of conference hotels, casino resorts and golf hotels.
There are also spa resorts, numerous options for the budget traveller, and a charming array of B&B accommodation and guest houses. Facilities range from the ultra-luxury to the rustic, but most are noted for their high-quality, personalised service and warm hospitality. Many have restaurants on site.
A variety of promotional material on South Africa are available. Comprehensive guides and maps cover all the regions and aspects of interest to tourists, including accommodation. Various useful tourism websites can be found on the Internet.
The Tourism Grading Council of South Africa (TGCSA) inspects standards in the hospitality and accommodation industry.
This voluntary grading system, which was launched in 2001, uses internationally recognised star insignia to rate accommodation establishments and will be extended to include relevant businesses in classified sectors of the tourism industry. Once graded, establishments are encouraged to use the star system for marketing and advertising purposes.
Establishments are assessed according to the type of accommodation they provide. There are currently nine type of establishments:
backpacker and hostelling
caravan and camping
meeting, exhibitions, special events
Grading assessors undergo training to receive the National Certificate in Tourism Grading, a world-first qualification. Assessors are accredited with Theta and registered with the TGCSA before being recommended to the industry.
Larger hotel groups with their own internal assessors are also accredited with Theta. Independent auditors conduct random audits. These auditors also assist in ensuring that the assessors adhere to a code of conduct.
Star grading is the only system recognised by government and the TGCSA.
Star gradings are displayed on most advertising material and at hotel entrances. Participation by hotels is voluntary and indicates a commitment to providing good service and regularly upgrading facilities. Star-graded establishments undergo annual quality checks to ensure that standards are maintained.
The grading categories are as follows:
one star – fair to good; modest, clean, comfortable and functional
two stars – good; quality furnishings, service and guest care
three stars – very good; better furnishings, service and guest care
four stars – superior; excellent comfort and very high standard of furnishings, service and guest care
five stars – exceptional; top-of-the-line quality and luxurious accommodation in line with the best international standards and stringent attention to service.
The TGCSA annually publishes The Accommodation Guide. AA Travel Guide offers another quality check for visitors to South Africa. The AA stamp of approval on promotional material indicates that a venue is highly recommended. Since 1994, the organisation has also been running an annual awards programme based on consumer feedback on some 1 200 AA quality-assured establishments. Qualified assessors visit high-scoring establishments to verify their scores.
Crime has had a negative impact on the country’s growing reputation as a desirable travel destination. However, the Department of Environmental Affairs and Tourism is lobbying and working together with safety and security agencies such as the SAPS, the National Intelligence Agency and the Department of Safety and Security.
During 2006, the Tourism Branch established a task team to assist in developing the National Tourism Safety and Awareness Strategy. All nine provinces are represented on the task team.
Agencies such as the International Marketing Council have also been identified to help counter international perceptions about crime.
As part of its efforts to combat crime, the SAPS holds joint operations committee meetings with stakeholders at provincial level. A range of stakeholders attend these planning meetings, which previously did not include tourism stakeholders.
The Tourism Safety and Awareness Strategy involves pro-active and support measures. A booklet containing safety tips for tourists has been revised and was distributed at the Tourism Indaba. The department, together with the SAPS, is working on the Tourism Safety and Awareness Handbook for Practitioners.
Tourism data collection and dissemination are important activities of the Tourism Branch, as a growing industry needs to be well informed. The Tourism Satellite Account (TSA) is a key research tool, which calculates the value of tourism to the national economy, based on the data accumulated in 10 different tables. The TSA was expected to be launched at the 2009 Tourism Indaba.
The top 10 tourist attractions in South Africa are:
Kruger National Park
Cape Town’s Victoria and Alfred Waterfront
The Cradle of Humankind
Source: SA Venues
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Tourism in the provinces
The Western Cape lies at the southern tip of the African continent. Considered one of the most beautiful regions in Africa, it is also the place where two oceans meet and the home of the famous fynbos vegetation.
The paternal presence of Table Mountain, the pristine coastline with its white sandy beaches, the magnificent countryside with its bountiful rivers, vleis and dams, fauna and flora, together with the warm summer climate and friendly community, make the Western Cape the perfect holiday destination.
Tourism in the city of Cape Town centres around the Victoria and Alfred (V&A) Waterfront, a working harbour offering everything from upmarket shopping malls, arts and craft markets, theatres and live music, to museums.
Other major attractions in the city include the Bo-Kaap Museum, the Castle of Good Hope, the Company’s Garden, the District Six Museum, flea markets, the Grand Parade, the houses of Parliament, the South African Cultural History Museum and the South African National Gallery. Also worth a visit are historical buildings in the Bo-Kaap and District Six.
The Gold of Africa Museum established by Anglo Gold is home to a celebrated collection of more than 350 gold artefacts.
Air flips and trips are available, as well as many boat and yacht trips from Table Bay Harbour, including trips to Robben Island (proclaimed a world heritage site and also the place where former President Nelson Mandela was imprisoned for several years).
The Nelson Mandela Gateway to Robben Island is situated in the Clock Tower Precinct at the V&A Waterfront. The gateway houses interactive multimedia exhibitions, an auditorium, boardrooms, the Robben Island Museum and a restaurant.
Jazz is big in Cape Town. From traditional blues through progressive jazz to African-influenced jazz, every taste is catered for at a number of restaurants, jazz cafés, cigar bars, pubs and wine farms. The top jazz event in the Western Cape is the annual Cape Town International Jazz Festival.
Table Mountain, which forms part of the Table Mountain National Park (TMNP) is a popular attraction for visitors and provides a majestic backdrop to the vibrant and friendly Mother City. An ultra-modern cableway takes visitors to the top of the mountain, providing spectacular views.
Newlands is home to the renowned Kirstenbosch National Botanical Garden. In summer, various open-air concerts are held here.
The South African Rugby Museum in Newlands reflects the history of the sport as far back as 1891.
The Rhodes Memorial is situated at Rondebosch on the slopes of Table Mountain. It was built of granite from the mountain as a tribute to the memory of Cecil John Rhodes, prime minister of the Cape from 1890 to 1896.
The University of Cape Town is worth a visit for its historic Middle Campus and many buildings designed by Sir Herbert Baker.
Cape Point, part of the TMNP, offers many drives, walks, picnic spots and a licensed restaurant. Care has been taken to protect the environmental integrity of this 22 100-hectare (ha) reserve of indigenous flora and fauna.
Simon’s Town’s naval atmosphere and Historic Mile are major attractions in the area. A statue of the famous dog and sailor’s friend, Able Seaman Just Nuisance, stands at Jubilee Square.
Other attractions include the South African Naval Museum and the Warrior Toy Museum. One of only two of the mainland African penguin-breeding colonies in the world can be found at Boulders Beach, also part of the TMNP.
Hout Bay is well-known for its colourful working harbour. Seafood outlets, round-the-bay trips to the nearby seal colony, shell and gift shops, and a famous harbour front emporium attract many visitors. Duiker Island is a seal and sea-bird sanctuary. The World of Birds Wildlife Sanctuary is one of the largest bird parks in the world and is home to some 3 000 birds.
In Oostenberg, visitors can enjoy some fine wine and flower farms, such as Zevenwacht Wine Estate with its graceful Cape Dutch homestead. Tygerberg Zoo boasts a collection of exotic animals.
In Oostenberg, visitors can enjoy some fine wine and flower farms, such as Zevenwacht Wine Estate with its graceful Cape Dutch homestead. Tygerberg Zoo boasts a collection of exotic animals. Endless stretches of quiet beaches provide popular surfing and windsurfing spots. Big Bay in Bloubergstrand is a surfer’s paradise and host to an international windsurfing event. Rietvlei Nature Reserve is a unique wetland area, with over 110 bird species, including pelicans and flamingos.
Canal Walk Century City is the largest shopping centre in Africa, with close to 400 shops and home to the largest cinema complex in South Africa.
Tygerberg is a vibrant and fast-growing area with a well-developed business centre, numerous sports fields, an international indoor cycle track, well-kept golf courses and a racecourse.
New Year in Cape Town is a festive affair, when the Cape minstrels take to the streets with their upbeat music and fancy costumes.
The Garden Route features the pont at Malgas, which is the only remaining pont in the country, ferrying vehicles and livestock across the Breede River. Whalewatching attracts tourists at Witsand and Port Beaufort from June to November.
The Grootvadersbosch Nature Reserve outside Heidelberg comprises the popular Bushbuck Trail, a wilderness trail and two mountain-bike trails.
Riversdale is one of South Africa’s most important fynbos export areas. Other attractions include the Julius Gordon Africana Museum.
At the historical Strandveld Architectural Heritage Site at Still Bay, visitors can watch tame eels being fed. Ancient fish-traps can be seen at Morris Point and the harbour.
At the aloe factories at Albertinia, aloe juice is extracted for medicine and high-quality skin-care products.
Nearby, bungee-jumping on the Gourits River Gorge, hiking, mountain-biking and angling are popular pastimes.
The Point in Mossel Bay is not only popular among surfers, but its natural pool formed by rock is also a favourite swimming spot at low tide. The St Blaize trail starts here and is the ideal place to watch the whales and dolphins at play in season.
The Point in Mossel Bay is not only popular among surfers, but its natural pool formed by rock is also a favourite swimming spot at low tide. The St Blaize trail starts here and is the ideal place from which to watch the whales and dolphins at play in season.
The harbour at Mossel Bay is one of the most modern commercial and recreational harbours on the southern Cape coastline. PetroSA’s Information Centre informs visitors about the production of synthetic fuels from Mossel Bay’s offshore gas fields. Other attractions include the Attequas Kloof Pass, Anglo-Boer/South African War blockhouses and the Bartolomeu Dias complex.
Great Brak River offers a historic village with many opportunities for whale- and dolphin-watching along the extensive coast.
George is at the heart of the Garden Route. It is the mecca of golf in the southern Cape, as it is home to the renowned Fancourt Country Club and Golf Estate, as well as various other acclaimed golf courses. Board the Outeniqua Choo-Tjoe on its daily trip along the coastline between George and Knysna (except Sundays) at the Outeniqua Transport Museum.
Visitors can also board the Power Van here, and enjoy a glimpse of the Garden Route Botanical Garden from this rail bus.
The George Museum, with its theme of timber history, offers ongoing exhibitions. The Montagu and Voortrekker passes are national monuments, providing spectacular views of the Outeniqua Nature Reserve, which offers several hiking trails.
The George Airport, the Outeniqua Pass, the railway line and the N2 offer convenient access to this region, making George the ideal hub from which to explore the Garden Route and Little Karoo.
Victoria Bay and Wilderness are popular for their unspoilt beaches. Wilderness is the western gateway to the southern Cape lakes area. It is a nature lover’s paradise, best known for its beaches, lakes, placid lagoon and lush indigenous forests. Birdwatchers flock to the Langvlei and Rondevlei bird sanctuaries in the Wilderness National Park, which hosts over 230 different bird species.
Sedgefield borders Swartvlei Lagoon, the largest natural inland saltwater lake in South Africa. Activities include beach horse-riding, hiking, angling and birdwatching.
Knysna nestles on the banks of an estuary, guarded by The Heads (two huge sandstone cliffs) and surrounded by indigenous forests, tranquil lakes and golden beaches.
This natural wonderland is home to the largest and smallest of creatures, from the Knysna seahorse to the Knysna elephants, rare delicate butterflies and the endemic Knysna loerie, a colourful forest bird. Over 200 species can be found in the abundant fynbos and forest settings.
Knysna is also famous for its delectable homegrown oysters, enjoyed with locally brewed beer in quaint pubs and restaurants. An eclectic mix of art galleries showcases the diversity of talent in the area. The area also offers lagoon cruises, forest hikes, golf and adventure sports.
Plettenberg Bay is adventure country, offering boat-based whale-watching, black-water tubing, hiking, and forest and cycling trails. The Keurbooms River Nature Reserve at Plettenberg Bay offers a canoeing trail, while the Robberg Nature Reserve is a treasure trove of land, marine, geological and archaeological wealth.
At 216 m high, the bungee jump from the Bloukrans River Bridge on the border between the Western and Eastern Cape is the highest commercial bungee jump in the world.
The Little Karoo’s spectacular landscape is fashioned almost entirely by water. Its vegetation ranges from lush greenery in the fertile river valleys to short, rugged Karoo plants in the veld. Gorges follow rivers that cut through towering mountains, while breathtakingly steep passes cross imposing terrain. The region is also home to the largest bird in the world – the ostrich. The Little Karoo is rich in culture and history.
Excellent wines and port are produced in the Calitzdorp and De Rust areas.
Oudtshoorn, the world’s ostrich-feather capital, is the region’s main town. The Swartberg Nature Reserve and Pass with its gravel roads, are also worth a visit. The Klein Karoo Nasionale Kunstefees is held in the town annually. Some 29 km from Oudtshoorn lie the remarkable Cango caves, a series of spectacular subterranean limestone caverns. Bearing evidence of early San habitation, the 30-cave wonderland boasts magnificent dripstone formations.
Amalienstein and Zoar are historic mission stations midway between Ladismith and Calitzdorp. Visitors can go on donkey-cart and hiking trails through orchards and vineyards, while the Seweweekspoort is ideal for mountain-biking, hiking, and protea and fynbos admirers.
Calitzdorp boasts four wine estates, three of which are open to the public. The spring water of the Calitzdorp Spa is rich in minerals and is reputed to have medicinal properties. The Gamka Mountain Reserve is home to the rare and endangered Cape mountain zebra.
De Rust lies at the southern entrance to Meiringspoort. The Meiringspoort Gorge extends 20 km through the Swartberg Mountain Range. Halfway through, a beautiful 69 m-high waterfall can be seen. Wine farms in the area are open to the public.
Ladismith is home to the Towerkop Cheese Factory. There are various hiking, mountain-biking and 4x4 trails in the area. The Anysberg, Klein Karoo and Towerkop nature reserves are also worth a visit.
Uniondale, on the main route between George and Graaff-Reinet, features the largest water-wheel in the country, the Old Watermill. Uniondale Poort is a scenic drive linking Uniondale with Avontuur in the Langkloof Valley.
At Vanwyksdorp, visitors can see how fynbos is dried and packed for the export market. Donkey-cart rides take visitors to Anglo-Boer/South African War grave sites.