Ed's note

The soft power of tourism

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Congratulations. You’ve made it through 2016, a year so filled with Black Swans that half the world is shellshocked. I’ll spare you a recap of the most salient events, as you probably don’t want to be reminded. Besides, it’s the holiday season, which means we all have work to do.

South Africa remains the most popular destination for leisure and business tourism not only in Africa but also in the Middle East. These along with other fascinating insights can be gleaned from our interviews in this issue with WTM Africa and the SANCB. It’s a hard fact to hold onto in a sea of uncertainty and doubt: tourists love South Africa and they’re going to keep coming back. The question is, are they going to come back for what you have to offer, or will you watch the stream of happy feet heading for other operators? It all depends on how successfully you manage to integrate the latest innovations into your offering. Read our article by Enver Duminy for a few pointers in this direction.

Let’s bear in mind that one of South Africa’s greatest attractions is the people that live here. Don’t forget that 2016 has been a tough year for everybody, world-wide. This holiday season is an opportunity to help tourists get over the shock and recalibrate their compasses. Think of it as a form of soft power. By treating them to the best customer experience possible, you will be building up South Africa’s reputation as a haven amidst the storms. And storms there will be aplenty in 2017. Let’s use the soft power of tourism to build bridges across the divides between people around the world.

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