SA Tourism SME’S Work Together to Bolster Business

South Africa was recognised with numerous travel and tourism awards in 2018; from being named as Africa’s Leading Destination in the latest World Travel Awards, to its top metropoles such as Durban and Cape Town earning the titles of Africa’s Leading City Destination and Africa’s Leading Festival & Event Destination, respectively.

As such, South African small and medium enterprise (SME) owners with operations either directly or indirectly linked to the sector, should take this opportunity to capitalise on the recent positive trajectory in order to bolster their businesses this year.

Illustrating the growing impact of the sector, Arnold February, regional investment manager at Business Partners Limited (BUSINESS/PARTNERS), points to the World Travel and Tourism report 2018, which reveals that the direct contribution of the travel and tourism sector to South Africa’s GDP has been projected to rise from R136bn in 2016 to R197.9bn by 2028 – set to make up a total of 3.3 percent of the country’s total GDP.

“One of the biggest benefits of the travel and tourism sector is the fact that it encompasses, both directly and indirectly, a wide range of industries – from hospitality and cleaning services, to retail and repairs – offering a niche for almost any business to fill in the industry,” February explains.

“As such, SMEs around the country should collaborate to form a community and support each other’s business growth, whilst creating unique experiences for visitors,” he adds.

“Further to this, SME owners who have businesses operating in the same field should not view one another as competition, but rather work together to complement each other. This will not only benefit the businesses, but also provide clients with better and more streamlined services, while showcasing the best of what the country has to offer.”

In order to assist, February lists three pointers that local SME owners can use to create a community and bolster their businesses, as well as drive the travel and tourism industry forward:


  1. Work together to map out experiences: An increasing number of tourists seek out experiences and adventures, rather than sightseeing or relaxing pool-side.  Not only does this provide opportunities for tour guides, but it also offers an opportunity for experiential businesses – from shark cage diving to wine farms – to form relationships, promote each other or offer joint discounts. Businesses can also work together to provide a curated tour with many different complementary stops and activities along the way.


  1. Don’t view businesses with the same offering as competition: For example, guest house owners should consider agreeing to offer each other referral fees if they are fully booked and refer a guest to another guest house in the area.


  1. Organise forums: From a support-perspective, this is a great way for businesses in specific industries to network and problem solve together. This can either be in the form of small regular coffee meetings or larger monthly or quarterly meetings. We find that in the suburbs, there are already a lot of forums and it really assists in forming a bonded community between businesses.


“As 2019 is in full swing, local business owners should consider working together with other businesses in their communities  in order to capitalise on the country’s booming travel and tourism industry and expand their businesses,” concludes February.