The Department of Tourism has joined forces with American search engine company, Google, which is aimed at promoting South Africa as a prime tourist destination and providing training and support to the sector in digital training. This was elaborated by the signing of a collective agreement, by Minister Patricia de Lille and Dr. Alistair Mokoena, Country Director for Google South Africa in Cape Town on Tuesday.
More than 70 percent of worldwide online search requests are handled by Google, placing it at the heart of most Internet users’ experience. The Ministry of Tourism is mandated to create conditions conducive for growth and development of tourism in South Africa by the private sector. Google intends to provide support to the Ministry to achieve its mandate through providing access to its initiatives and programmes in South Africa that are beneficial to the sector.
This partnership involves not a monetary exchange but an initiative in line with Minister de Lille’s mission to grow tourism to its full potential, unlock the power of technology in the sector and increase arrivals to South Africa to support economic growth and job creation in South Africa.
According to the minister, in an era of digital transformation, collaboration between technology giants and government entities has the potential to reshape industries and enhance public services.
“As stated in the Tourism Sector Green Paper, there is a ‘lack of support mechanisms for the (tourism) sector, particularly SMMEs, to adapt to a digital future and other technological advancements’. This visionary partnership between Google and the Ministry of Tourism, focusing on non-monetary exchanges to leverage each parties’ strengths for mutual benefits”. de Lille said.
The primary goal of this collaboration is to harness Google’s technological expertise to support the Ministry of Tourism’s efforts in promoting South Africa as a prime tourist destination. The partnership aims to facilitate knowledge sharing, skills development, and the use of digital tools to enhance tourism experiences and sustainability.
Collaborating with the Ministry of Tourism, Google can provide insights into global travel trends. This information can guide the Department of Tourism and South African Tourism’s strategies for targeting specific markets and tailoring experiences to visitor expectations.
Google SA Country Director, Dr Alistair Mokoena said the company will undertake and share at no cost to the Ministry or Department, specific studies to investigate the impact of digital platforms and online content.
Google offers skills training programmes including the Google Hustle Academy and master classes. These digital skills initiatives will be extended to offer training programs for individuals and businesses within the Ministry ecosystem. This would equip local entrepreneurs with the digital skills needed to market their offerings online, potentially attracting a wider audience of travellers.
Tourism start-ups can be supported by Google programmes such as the Startup Accelerator and the Black Founders Fund. The training will also include Google Ads training on the fundamentals of Google Ads. To date, more than 2 773 South African SMMES have previously benefited from these support programmes offered by Google.
“We are excited to partner with the Department of Tourism and to sign the letter of intent which aims to position South Africa as a great tourist destination. As a company that prides itself in organising the world’s information and making it universally accessible and useful, we look forward to rolling out various programmes in conjunction with the department, to fast-track digital transformation in the sector, helping with digital skills and showcasing South African tourism through our Google Arts & Culture platform”. Mokoena said.
Google can also showcase South African tourism sites and unique cultural heritage to the world through the Google Arts and Culture Portal. This is already being done, however, through closer partnership with the Ministry of Tourism, more information will be shared on unique travel sites and hidden gems like South Africa’s little townships, villages and dorpies.
To enhance digitization of South Africa’s tourism offerings, Google Art & Culture will work with the Ministry to showcase South African tourist sites and cultural heritage to the world, by getting more sites online and featuring thematic stories of importance to the Department.
“An important part of this agreement is the empowerment of local businesses especially emerging enterprises. Through digital skills training, small businesses within the tourism sector can become more competitive on the global stage.” said Dr. Mokoena.