I’ve been critical of local tourism for insufficiently targeting domestic tourism. As we need travelers from booming economies such as Brazil, India and China, so we need the farmer and his family from Bloemfontein and the new middle class of black people that’s growing rapidly in South Africa’s major cities.

Capitalism has it’s flaws but one strength is that the desire for income can override racial barriers.

Here in Knysna, there’s a great divide. And black tourists are as rare as the Knysna elephant. What will we do about it? I don’t believe in discussion purely for discussion’s sake but discussion is needed before planning and implementation. Debate stimulates thought. Consequently, i was glad to find this article by Martin Hatchuel at This Tourism Week:

Looking around at the places I haunt – everything seems very white.

Where are the black tourists?

I know that the Western Cape has a perception problem when it comes to black visitors – but surely I should see at least some?

The thing is, if it’s true that every successful tourism economy gets 70% of its business from the domestic market, and if we don’t start seeing a significant growth in the numbers of black tourists in South Africa (and I’m talking holidaymakers, here) – we’ll never see significant growth in the tourism industry as a whole.

But – and here’s the rub – are we offering the products that black tourists want?

You have to assume not.

We all know that there’s no such thing as a typical black South African (just as there’s no typical white south African), but given this constraint, and given the huge cultural differences that exist between all the various groups in South Africa, surely we should have access to research that shows what specific sectors of our society want out of tourism?

Again, it would seem not. I asked colleagues, I searched the internet, I went through the South African Tourism site – but I found almost nothing on the subject (except perhaps this excellent article from thomaswhite.com – but it’s more about retailing than anything else. Still, it provides a useable perspective).

Surely then, commissioning this kind of research should be a priority?

What are your thoughts?

PS: Hope the photo got your attention:) Urban myth and real questions are sometimes uncomfortable neighbours.


What Do Black South African Tourists Want? — 2 Comments

  1. The problem is the attitude of the people from the Western Cape particularly towards black people. The majority of black south africans visits Kwazulu-Natal. Black people are been froned upon and we (“coloureds” and whites) in the Western Cape are treating our black brothers and sisters with suspicion. That is the problem my friend! We must change our ways!

    • I agree that everyone needs to be feel welcomed but, beyond that, what activities or image needs to be projected so that they come to Knysna instead of Durban?