South Africa is quite a beautiful country. This is actually a fact hard to dispute. Its natural heritage is evident and well characterised in its profound history and reality today. Historically, South Africa's painful history of racial segregation saw a system of oppression facilitating the unfair distribution of the country's heritage. Rich in minerals and a beautiful landscape, South Africa's identity is well formulated by its diversity in culture, language and (the most contentious topic of debate) the land.
While much heated debate (and a few sporadic protests) continue surrounding the land, one thing the Dept of tourism is adamant about is that stimulating domestic tourism is a pivotal objective. The aim is geared towards stimulating a national identity along the exposure of the country's beautiful landscape, the warmth and hospitality of the people who call it home. The need to make domestic tourism a viable consideration has caused attention to areas of affordability, SMME investments and initiatives aimed at a more inclusionary role in catering for different segments of our population.
Opportunities for lower income South Africans ride alot on the tourism peak periods as source markets, sports and cultural festivals attract economic activity as the sector accounts for 700 000 direct jobs. The business support interventions in this regard has looked at initiatives such as the Tourism Incubator Programme aimed at boosting enterpises involved in making domestic tourism an affordable practice.
Efforts to stimulate domestic tourism seems to be at the heart of national appreciation. South Africa has a beautiful constitution. Growing its young democracy while healing the scars of the past demands a holistic approach where efforts of genuine unity need to be made on every level, sector and province. The essence of national appreciation in this context is a call to a patriotism which appeals to one's 'devoted love, support and defence of their country'. Our conviction as patriots should want to see us travel and explore our country more. Patriotism in South Africa, however, seems to be polairzed in need of formation. Seemingly, by traveling and exploring our country more, there is hope that we will identify better as South Africans with a more profound sense of national pride.
This chicken and egg predicament seems to be a win-win as stimulating domestic tourism is well accepted as a needed mechanism for fostering and realising the country's values and ideals. By aiding the integration and interaction of its diverse multicultural population, a community of shared values and identity may ultimately be appreciated. In trying to make a cultural shift from tolerance to acceptance, much needed concessions need to take place both in dialogue and practice. Stimulating domestic tourism is a call for the country to introspect in promoting a positive and truthful post apartheid social climate.
Our country truly is beautiful with a lot to offer. The amelioration of costs involved in accomodation, travel and activities has made holiday packages for groups more appealing. The importance of experiencing one's own indigenous national territory can only lead to a better understanding of our context today. The significant appreciation for the struggle forming the backdrop of our liberation is important if we are truly going to build a nation together. There are so many untold stories surrounding our identity. Being an active visitor of our own home allows a participitory process of balancing truths while appreciating the common narrative.
By: Thato Sihlali