By Bongiwe Zwane-Maseko
Eswatini should be leveraging South Africa’s power challenges to draw more visitors from the neighbouring country.
Marketing Eswatini as a destination with reliable 24-hour supply, on top of its many outstanding features, would make it a destination of choice for South African tourists. This is the view of the Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of the Southern Africa Tourism Services Association (SATSA) David Frost.
Frost said due to the load-shedding challenges, Eswatini is a lucrative place for visitors to go on holiday because it is close by and a breath of fresh air.
“Unfortunately, Eswatini is under-sold. The marketing of Eswatini in SA is almost non-existent, which is unfortunate. I believe the Eswatini tourism industry would yield higher results if the focus were to be more on South Africans and less on international travellers,” he said.
The CEO added that Eswatini has a lot to offer such as picturesque views, friendly people, and a lot of hidden treasures. To crown it all, he says Eswatini boasts of one of the world’s best beers, Sibebe.
“I have travelled extensively but Eswatini always stands out for me because it is a place like no other. I call it the ‘cool kingdom’. Visitors need to be encouraged to stay longer in the kingdom because there is a lot to do and see,” said Frost.
He said the South African tourism industry has not seen a drop in visitors yet due to load-shedding. “It is an inconvenience but not a deterrent to tourists visiting the country”, he said.
The CEO of the Eswatini Tourism Authority (ETA) Linda Nxumalo said the effects of load shedding in South Africa will have a great effect on business holistically and local tourism, especially for long-haul tourists who usually buy packages for the region.
“South Africa is our source market and a gateway for Eswatini and as such, if tour operators decide to exclude South Africa in their itineraries due to the effects of load shedding then Eswatini stands to lose out on the same tourists. We hope that the load shedding issue will be resolved as soon as possible to prevent future loss of business in the tourism sector,” she said.
South Africa is grappling with its worst-ever bout of load shedding. Domestic travel, which was the only ray of light for South Africa’s struggling tourism sector during the period of heightened international travel bans, is likely to suffer most from the rising costs of local flights and load shedding’s economic knock-on.