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The Kingdom of Eswatini

World Tourism Day 2022: How Eswatini is “Rethinking Tourism”

Every year, Eswatini joins the global community in observing World Tourism Day on 27 September. As in previous years, the Eswatini Tourism Authority (ETA) has dedicated this month to heightening awareness on, and encouraging national involvement in tourism’s proven ability to foster demonstrable, meaningful and sustainable change for the collective development of various communities, as well as the upliftment of different social groups in Eswatini.

Tourism in Eswatini has enjoyed several accoladed and successes over the years, none of which would have been achieved without the creative contributions and unwavering dedication demonstrated by the captains of the industry. Here is how they have interpreted and responded to this year’s World Tourism Day theme, Rethinking Tourism

Jiggs Thorne (Pictured above)
Co-Founding Director
House on Fire, MTN Bushfire, Standard Bank Luju Food & Lifestyle Festival

1. What does this year’s theme for World Tourism Day, Rethinking Tourism, mean to you in the context of Eswatini Tourism?

The Covid-19 pandemic has required us to rethink and reimagine the way we approach tourism in general. We need a radical rethink in the way we conceptualise and package our tourism product; we have to be thinking along the lines of being more sustainable in our approach. Ethical, green & responsible tourism – sustainable tourism – is the rising trend but we need to think how we can walk the talk.

We need to be very bold in the way in which we package ourselves because we need to stand out, which requires us to be broad-minded in our solutions. We need to be seen as a leader on the continent around certain principled initiatives. For an example of a bold initiative, look at how Rwanda’s ban on single-use plastics has boosted their international image as a clean, safe and responsible destination.

There is an urgent need to find a way to collectively address climate change, because this will soon have a huge impact on the tourism industry. We need to do this together, government and the private tourism industry, as a national strategy that deliberately commits us to supporting sustainable tourism initiatives by introducing bold new concepts that set Eswatini apart – we need to be seen to be forward-thinking.

Around the world, and particularly in the nations which produce the most tourists, people are more conscious about the social and environmental impact of tourism and are looking for ethical choices to inform how and where they spend their money.

2. How does House On Fire/MTN Bushfire contribute towards maintaining Eswatini’s image as “one of the world’s best countries” as lauded by Lonely Planet?

Our approach has been to use events like the MTN Bushfire festival as a vehicle to promote a very deliberate call to action – “Bring Your Fire” – which encourages every individual to take part in a collective effort to address important social and environmental concerns. We feel that we can use the transformative power of the arts to effect meaningful positive environmental change.

We consciously promote positive environmental behaviour and hosting safe and responsible events. We are very deliberate about what we want to achieve – celebrating diversity and highlighting a range of critical issues, generating engagement on these issues. The creative space is a dynamic environment where issues can be discussed and addressed, and it is a public discussion.

We enjoy actively supporting our culture and heritage and showcasing the amazing people and talent in Eswatini and are pleased to be able to provide Eswatini with a world stage; a place where the world can gather, where we can showcase who we are, and celebrate the Swazi spirit of inclusiveness.

3. How do you plan on modelling this year’s theme in your tourism products and offerings?

On a strategic level, one of our initiatives for this year’s Standard Bank Luju Food & Lifestyle Festival has been to target the largely untapped Mozambican market. Traditionally, tourism opportunities have focused on South Africa and further abroad, yet right next door we have a market which we feel has not been fully realised for tourism opportunities.

The 2022 Standard Bank Luju Food & Lifestyle Festival has secured a partner with strong Mozambican ties, Galp, to support a new stage at the festival and more diversity in our line-up. We are intentionally including Lusophone (Portuguese-speaking) acts such as Lura from Cape Verde / Portugal and Radjha Ali from Mozambique, to bring more Mozambican tourists into Eswatini.

To this end, it has been very encouraging to work with the Eswatini Tourism Authority on the Triland initiative which ties our three countries together. It is very important that we are coordinated and aligned in how we communicate our messaging. Next year, we will focus on another regional country, Lesotho, to try to bring more tourists from there to Eswatini.

Our products – events – can be tools and instruments for the change that we would ultimately like to see, to promote a wide range of Eswatini’s successes. The Standard Bank Luju Food & Lifestyle Festival is dedicated to promoting local fashion and culinary industry, to attract a different tourist demographic who may not be interested in our usual tourism offerings and promoting a new creative local market that deserves to be highlighted.

Sandile Magongo
Chief Administrative Officer
Africa Tourism Board Secretariat Headquarters, Eswatini

1. What does this year’s World Tourism Day theme, Rethinking Tourism, mean to you in the context of Eswatini Tourism?

Firstly, the Africa Tourism Boards extends its gratitude to the Government of Eswatini for hosting the African Tourism Board (ATB) Headquarters Secretariat Office.

“Rethinking Tourism” is a big part of the tourism sector. As ATB, we have set a mandate to rebrand, reshape and to change the narrative of Africa through telling each individual story from each country as they would like to heard, seen and appreciated.

2. How do you, through your tourism products and brands, contribute towards maintaining Eswatini’s image as “one of the world’s best countries” as lauded by Lonely Planet?

Eswatini remains the hidden jewel of Africa that awaits to be fully explored. The Africa Tourism Board has set out to give first priority in marketing the country throughout the continent. This has already been evident in our recent visit to the African Union where we led a delegation of 26 African Countries.

The UN Commission was very pleased and humbled by the Government of Eswatini for hosting the ATB Headquarters and encouraged the rest of Africa to follow suit. As we speak, we’re preparing for the Annual General Meeting (AGM) which will be held in the Kingdom next year.

3. How do you plan on modelling this year’s theme in your day-to-day operations?

The Africa Tourism Board has set out a full mandate to all affiliates and other continental bodies to promote intra and inter Africa travel, tell their own stories, and make tourism the one pillar to economic recovery and sustainable development for our African economies.

We look to achieve through cheaper airline travel, VISA free travel, promoting free trade partnerships so that Africa continues to strive through tourism. 

Daniel Kambale Bushu
Founder & Managing Director
Bush Travel Tours
1. What does this year’s World Tourism Day theme, Rethinking Tourism, mean to you in the context of Eswatini Tourism?

In the words of the Secretary-General for the United Nations World Tourism Organisation (UNWTO) Zurab Pololikashvili, “The potential of tourism is enormous, and we have a shared responsibility to make sure it is fully realised”.

Coincidentally, in September we also celebrate World Cleanup Day. It is estimated that one to five trillion plastic bags are consumed worldwide each year. Five trillion is almost 10 million plastic bags per minute. If tied together, all these plastic bags could be wrapped around the world 7 times every hour.

As articulated by the President of the United Nations (UN) General Assembly, María Fernanda Espinosa Garcés, stressing that 11 years are all that remain to avert catastrophe, “We are the last generation that can prevent irreparable damage to our planet”.

Bush Travel Tours, is a tour operator in Eswatini. For us, Rethinking Tourism manifests in the call to action, Breathe Green. It implores us to realise the shared responsibility we all have, from schools and businesses, to government and the community, in identifying innovative solutions to save our planet and achieve tourism’s potential amid the uncertainty and restrictions presented by the COVID pandemic.

Practically, we have launched the GREEN ADVENTURE SERIES to raise awareness on the excessive littering that pollutes the Kingdom of Eswatini’s magnificent landscape, hence threatening our livelihoods, businesses, and the tourism industry. A clean environment leads to a healthy travel, a healthy corporate lifestyle, a healthy mind and a healthy community. That is why we have partnered with Coca-Cola Eswatini Beverages, recycling agency, Eric Slabbert, the Eswatini Environmental Authority (EEA), the Hospitality and Tourism Association of Eswatini (HOTAES) and the Eswatini Tourism Authority (ETA) to raise awareness on waste collection and recycling in order to keep Eswatini clean.

On the 29th of October, we are calling upon businesses, corporates, schools, organizations to join the 8.5km GREEN walk at 7am and the 21km GREEN run at 6:30am from The Gables to Mantenga Falls and its breath-taking natural scenery. Rethinking Tourism starts with a mindset change which inspires us to recognise that we are the ones who produce waste and embrace that waste has value when it is recycled and reused.

2. How do you, through your tourism products and brands, contribute towards maintaining Eswatini’s image as “one of the world’s best countries” as lauded by Lonely Planet?

We continue to sensitise the nation – schools, the corporate sector and the community on the importance of maintaining a healthy environment, so we can live healthier lives as the people of Eswatini, unlock domestic tourism, and finally maximise the tourists’ satisfactory experience in the Kingdom.

In Rethinking Tourism, we have also introduced a new category in adventure tourism called unicycling. So far, we have 5 cyclists in the nation but we hope the sport will grow and attract South African and international unicyclists into the Eswatini.

We are also staging the Green Tourism Exhibition and are inviting all artisans and stakeholders who are using recyclable material to create tourism products or are handcrafting unique products to showcase their work at the Green Adventure series.

The COVID-19 pandemic pause has only given tourism bold wings to fly, hence the Minister of tourism Moses Vilakati set a bold target to reach 2million tourists. Tourism is a vehicle to economic recovery, society’s transformation and the earth’s sustainability hence we need political will and cooperation to ensure tourism is a central part of policymaking. I commend the work being done by the Eswatini Tourism Authority in promoting and creating a conducive environment for tourism collaboration and economic growth.

3. How do you plan on modelling this year’s theme in your day-to-day operations?

For Eswatini tourism to continue to soar boldly, Rethinking Tourism means each tourism product, service provider and tourism destination needs to be part of a collective body in order to amplify the tourism offering, maintain a higher level of quality service and accountability. Excellent service delivery is not an option but an imperative! So, I urge any coffee shop, restaurant, guest house, B&B, event organiser, tourism transport operator to sign up with the Hospitality and Tourism Association of Eswatini (HOTAES) so we can strengthen the internal Eswatini tourism structure.

Rethinking Tourism is all about putting people first. Do simple things well over and over again—acknowledge the person next you, say hello, lend a hand, say encouraging words to your colleagues; managers correct your team with understanding, respect and kindness, model integrity of heart; employers create a conducive environment in which you yourself will be proud to work in daily, believe in your people that is the greatest asset of all.

Happy World Tourism Month to all tourism workers wherever you are in the Kingdom. Your hard-work, resilience, friendliness and grit is beyond words. Thank you for flying the Eswatini flag high and serving selflessly.

Thembinkosi Dlamini
Tour Manager
Calf’s Tours

1. What does this year’s World Tourism Day theme, Rethinking Tourism, mean to you in the context of Eswatini Tourism?

The tourism industry needs to be prepared for future challenges which requires collaboration and sense of interconnectedness. In 2022, we once again recognise the opportunities that tourism has brought and continues to bring to people everywhere. However, this year we also acknowledge that we cannot go back to the old ways of working.

We hope to see Eswatini tourism stakeholders working tirelessly to improve tourists’ experience and keeping abreast of trends within the tourism sector. As the world opens up again, we are referencing lessons learned from the pandemic. The associated pauses in international travel showed us where we can build more resilience. Tourism has always worked for young people, for women and for communities, but now it must truly work with them as well. We need new voices as well as new ideas if we are to transform our sector and build a better tourism for all.

2. How does Calf‘s Tours contribute towards maintaining Eswatini’s image as ‘one of the world’s best countries’ as lauded by Lonely Planet?

We will continue to provide the ultimate Eswatini travel experience and high-quality customer service that reflects the Royal Experience that tourists enjoy when in Eswatini. We continue to work employ the utmost professionalism as we carry out our day-to-day operations, apply creativity in organising the services needed by our clients from shuttle services to flights and accommodation bookings. We remain committed to unearthing the beauty of the Kingdom through designing tour packages that promote Eswatini as coveted holiday destination in the world over.