Business & Finance

TOMSA Set To Boost Domestic Tourism

Launching on Sunday 26 June 2016, Finders Keepers is a new Tourism Marketing South Africa (TOMSA) promotional campaign that aims to promote domestic tourism in the country by showcasing the products of existing tourism levy contributors, and to raise industry-wide awareness about the important role of TOMSA.

By Des Langkilde.

“Register as a TOMSA levy contributor and stand a chance of winning an advert in the Sunday Times newspaper, valued at over R100 000.” (See end of article on How to Participate).

This was announced during the campaign pre-launch activation at Tourism Indaba in Durban, which was hosted at the SA Tourism stand on Sunday, 8 May. The campaign will be implemented in partnership with South African Tourism (SA Tourism) and Times Media Group’s Sunday Times newspaper.

The TOMSA initiative is a Public-Private-Partnership established in 1998 between the Tourism Business Council of South Africa (TBCSA) and the National Department of Tourism. The initiative enables businesses in the sector to play an active role in the funding of the country’s destination marketing programs undertaken by SA Tourism. This is done through the collection and contribution of a 1% tourism levy charged on travel and tourism products and services rendered. The funds collected are administered by the TBCSA.

Currently, just 578 tourism businesses are registered with TOMSA as levy contributors. Of these, the accommodation sector is the largest contributor by number with medium to large hotel groups such as Southern Sun, Peermont, Forever Resorts, and Gooderson Leisure, having registered individual hotels. The actual number of individual collectors is: 711 in the accommodation sector, 7 car rental companies, 13 tour operators, 11 travel agents, and 5 tourism attractions (view the full list of contributors here). Despite these low numbers, they have collectively contributed in excess of R120 million towards SA Tourism’s overall destination marketing budget (approximately 10%). Imagine then what could be raised if the entire South African travel trade were to come on board the TOMSA initiative.

I spoke to one of the TOMSA levy initiators, Gail Westphal of Gooderson Leisure, who at the time was the CEO of SATSA, and is currently a TOMSA board member. “Back then (1998) South African Tourism received very little budget appropriation from government to market the destination abroad, and the private sector of tourism had very little say on how that budget was spent. We needed to contribute financially, and a 1% surcharge levied on every guests bill seemed the best way to achieve this objective. Initially the funds raised were used for JMA’s, whereby SA Tourism matched the TOMSA budget with a call-to-action,” said Gail. “This years’ Finders Keepers campaign is an extension of that original plan, and as Gooderson Leisure we are 100% behind it.”

Speaking during the campaign pre-launch activation, TBCSA Chief Executive Officer, Mmatšatši Ramawela said the campaign is part of a broader objective to raise a level of awareness about TOMSA, whilst at the same time generate added value for businesses that support the initiative.

“Our objective in hosting the pre-launch activation of the campaign at Indaba was to generate excitement amongst tourism operators and to make them aware of the opportunities that are available for them to participate in the promotional campaign. So far, the industry’s reception of the campaign and level of response in terms of pledges to support the campaign have been overwhelming,” Ramawela said.

Operators who wish to get involved can sponsor special prizes for the weekly prize draws, pledge special travel packages that can be promoted as part of the campaign or host the team of journalists who will be covering the competition for the Sunday Times travel section. “The marketing and media profiling opportunities this campaign will generate are substantial and we are elated to see the number of operators have already come forward to pledge their support”.

The Finders Keepers competition will be in the form of a treasure-hunt and will run for 12 weeks from the launch date in June, ending in September to coincide with the sector’s Tourism Month celebrations. It is envisioned that the competition will encourage domestic travel by unravelling tourism gems across the country.

“The concept for the competition is fairly simple” explains Times Media Group’s Marketing Manager, Gail Nel. “Using clues found in the Sunday Times, competition entrants will hunt for treasure focusing on TOMSA levy contributor products across the country. Entrants will have to identify where the treasure is being hidden and answer a number of travel and tourism related questions correctly in order to proceed to the next level of the competition. Those who make it to the end will take part in the final draw for a prize worth R1 million”.

Nel says the treasure-hunt will follow a specific route, across the different Provinces, which is designed to showcase various domestic travel and tourism offerings and attractions, particularly the ‘hidden gems’.

The paper’s travel editor, Paul Ash, reiterated: “The main aim for me is to share travel and tourism experiences, both from the mouth of the product owner and the travel consumer. Also, the value for the TOMSA levy contributor from their involvement in the campaign is incalculable. As we stop over at each establishment or tourism product along the Finders Keepers route, we will publish and showcase that product and the experience that goes with it.”

Chief Marketing Officer at South African Tourism, Margie Whitehouse, says SA Tourism is fully behind this exciting promotional campaign. “As recipients of the TOMSA tourism levy, SA Tourism fully supports the Finders Keepers competition. The competition will further encourage South Africans to travel their own country and also make South Africans proud to call this country their home. We believe it is important to build a culture of travel as there are plenty of hidden gems across all nine beautiful provinces to be uncovered. The campaign also provides the participating levy contributor with massive exposure when their tourism product is placed in the Sunday Times publication.

In closing, Ramawela said she looked forward to the campaign creating a ‘buzz’ about the significance of travel and tourism beyond Tourism Indaba; as well as the important role the private sector and consumers can play in stimulating growth – especially in terms of domestic travel. “We also hope that through this campaign, many travel and tourism product owners and service providers will see the value of TOMSA and sign up for levy contribution – thus helping us grow the funding for SA Tourism’s work of promoting our country”.

“We all know that the foundation of any successful tourism destination is its domestic market. Through this campaign we hope to demonstrate the value of TOMSA, to persuade all industry role-players to rally behind this important industry initiative and to ultimately inspire South Africans to travel and explore their own backyard”.

For more information about TOMSA and the Finders Keepers competition visit:


There are different ways in which the South African travel trade can participate in this exciting campaign:

• Host the Sunday Times team of journalists who will be generating newspaper content for the competition (provided this is in line with the competition route);

• Contribute prizes for the competition’s weekly prize draws;

• Pledge your support, and have your establishment profiled on the TOMSA website;

• Register as a TOMSA levy contributor and stand a chance of winning an advert in the Sunday Times newspaper, valued at over R100 000.

To participate, email Boitumelo Moleleki on [email protected] or contact 012-664 0120

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