Robust Debate at SATSA 2016 Conference

The 44th edition of the Southern Africa Tourism Services Association (SATSA) annual conference was convened at Pine Lake Inn, in White River, from 21 to 24 July 2016. The three day event, preceded by a golf day, was a phenomenal success as evidenced by the number of social and media reports emanating from delegates in attendance.

“Encouragingly, we had a significant number of first-time SATSA Conference attendees coming through, which was in no small part due to the quality and substance of the sessions. We were fully subscribed, actually having to turn people away, and our host venue, Pine Lake Inn, as well as Greenway Woods Resort really went above and beyond to ensure delegates were well taken care of with unfaltering friendliness and service,” said SATSA’s CEO, David Frost.

The programme line-up addressed the most topical matters and led to robust debate and discussion by the panels and from the floor.

Visa & Birth Certificate issues
In his keynote address to delegates, the Minister of Tourism, Derek Hanekom provided an update on why the controversial unabridged birth certificate requirement remains in place, despite Cabinet’s ruling that the regulations should be lifted over a year ago. Read more here.

Planning for a Sustained Future
In this session Martin Wiest, MD of Tourvest Destination Management, said companies have two options when it comes to responding to this rapidly evolving environment. He said that Businesses can either specialise, or they can invest in technology in order to compete with the disrupters in the industry. Read more here.

Dynamic Pricing & Rates
A programme session titled ‘Bar vs STO – Round 2’, debated the issue of dynamic pricing and why a number of high-end safari properties have opted to move to a dynamic, and in some cases, best available rate (BAR) structure, which has created major concerns from tour operators over the many challenges this has created for them. Read more here.

Tourist Guiding
The subject of tourist guiding was also addressed at the conference under a session titled ‘Guiding – where the rubber hits the road’, during which challenges around attracting and retaining talent in the tourist guiding industry was debated. Linda Pampallis, CEO of Thompsons Africa, said that the industry was struggling to make guiding an attractive career option for school and university leavers. “If we want to add five million visitors to South Africa then there aren’t enough guides – we have to start ‘talking up’ guiding as a profession.” Read more on this debate here.

Tourism Transport
This session debated ‘How to make this key segment more competitive’, and addressed the concerns of wheels operators, who have waited up to 18 months and longer to receive permits for their vehicles. Jits Patel, Chief Director of the National Department of Transport, said that a new accreditation system (NTPR) would be launched on 29 July, 2016, and will be a very different process in terms of the applications and checks the department will be introducing, with the aim of creating a level playing field and removing barriers to entry. Patel said that once in place, it will take no more than 60 days from the time of application to receiving the operating licence.

Wrapping up the 44th conference, David Frost concluded by saying: “Next year, our venue choice will be governed by a number of factors, but the primary consideration will be logistics. We’re hoping to grow to at least 350 people, so our decision will be largely guided by convenience and ease of access.”

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Past SATSA Conferences
The table below shows where past SATSA conferences have been held. Note that from 2011 to 2013, SATSA merged its annual conference with other member associations of the Tourism Business Council of South Africa (TBCSA), under the banner of a Combined Travel & Tourism Industry Conference (SATTIC).


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