OPINION: Implications of Trump presidency on S.A. tourism

PUBLISHED: Wed, 09 Nov 2016 11:19:28 GMT

Professor Molefe Asante, one of the top Afrocentric academics, always counsels that “the truth requires no defence, the truth is its own defence’’.

When we as people speak truth to power, we vocalise our feelings, aspirations, fears and the conditions that create freedom and unfreedoms in our lives. In December 2015, Samuel L Jackson during a comedy sketch on Jimmy Kimmel indicated that ‘’if that mother%$%# becomes president I will move my black ass to South Africa’’.

Now that Trump has become President of the USA, he will possibly bring showbiz to the Presidency, and South African has its own version of Donald Trump. South Africa’s Parliament has never been the same after the Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) led by Julius Malema won 6% of the national vote after he was booted out of the African National Congress (ANC).

The EFF brought not just showbiz to Parliament, they broke all the rules in Parliament. Today the Parliamentary show on the Pay Channel DSTV owned by Naspers (shareholder in TenCent) has increased viewership ever since the EFF landed in Parliament.

The most stressful job in South Africa must be that of the Speaker of the National Assembly, where you must try to bring order to the un-sanitised antics of the EFF, a permanent irritant in Parliament. At the first EFF attendance in Parliament during the State of the Nation Address the males wore red overalls, with hard hats and gumboots, whilst the females wore domestic worker uniforms. This was sought to galvanise support for the EFF, as representing the poor and the working class population, considering South Africa is one of the most unequal societies in the world and has an unemployment rate of more than 25%.  

The popularity of the Parliamentary Show has meant that even South African comedians are struggling to attract crowds to their shows, as Parliament has become the official means of entertainment.

It’s the same reason that one of the top South African comedians Trevor Noah became an economic refugee in America, just like the millions of Mexicans and ended taking up a job at The Daily Show, a job that Americans never wanted.

It’s a reality that America is a nation of refugees, hence Barak Obama has always been considered an ‘’outsider’’ even though Hawaii is now an American state.  South Africa has strong relationships with the USA, diplomatically and economically. Pretoria follows Washington, as the second most important diplomatic city in the world.

Mining’s contribution to the economy has decreased considerably, and the economy is using tourism as a means to ensure that shared growth is achieved. It is in tourism where the Americans are imperative to the economy of South Africa. The USA is the most important outbound source market to South Africa, after the UK.

Americans love South Africa, a country with a trademark charm, the most beautiful country in the world, and is the Cradle of Humankind. On 21 April 2015 Donald Trump wrote on Twitter: “As I have long been saying, South Africa is a total – and very dangerous – mess. Just watch the evening news (we not talking weather).”

It’s true South Africa, like many countries, has certain parts and places challenged by a lack of personal safety and security, but it’s a fact that Johannesburg is much safer than London. Since September 11, the USA has become a very dangerous place to live and stay.

As South Africans we will like to assure Samuel L Jackson that he will be welcomed to South Africa with red carpet treatment. For Americans who are still not sold, let them visit South Africa and experience the sounds, and life changing landscapes and people who are always smiling, defining our essence of Ubuntu.

The American elections have been very brutal and have really polarised American society, this may be the opportune time for a break from politics by uniting the American spirit by offering them vacation marketing outlays to sunny South Africa.

South Africa remains one of the top value for money destinations for Americans, which remains a visa-free destination. Tourism which is the engine for growth in the South African economy has grown 12% when compared to last year, remains the light in these tough economic conditions that face South Africa. As a country we must do more to support job creating economic sectors such as tourism by removing the red tape and rolling out the red carpet.

Unathi Sonwabile Henama is a tourism researcher and writes in his personal capacity.

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