The assessment of the weaknesses and strengths of the Republic of South Africa as a tourist destination features a set of complex arrangements, which are based on the local South African environment. As the competition between various tourist destinations has intensified in the latest years due to the global economic crisis, South Africa has succeeded in providing the evidence of its political stability and overall positive dynamics of the current economic growth. In other words, the Republic of South Africa has skilfully transformed its destination attributes in order to satisfy the demand of the most experienced tourists. The development plans of the South African tourist industry are based on the necessity of finding efficient solutions to the major threats affecting the country as a tourist destination. In order to assess the major objectives of the Republic's further development in the industry, it is vital to identify the three primary concerns of the tourist industry in South Africa. The threats are analyzed throughout the prism of safety, accessibility, scenery, attractions, and accommodation being the top determinants of the potential choice of South Africa as a tourist destination.
Issue #1: Tourist Personal and Health Safety
The ability of South Africa to compete as a touristic destination is intensely affected by its safety patterns in general and high levels of HIV and AIDS in particular (Balkaran & Maharaj, 2013). The safety dimension of the destination experience emphasizes the overall inefficiency of the South African healthcare system and high levels of HIV and AIDS (Diaz, 2001). In addition, personal safety of the visitors and security of their belongings are the two other major concerns of the Republic's safety issues. The quality of the tourist services in South Africa are greatly hindered by inappropriate health and crime conditions, along with the incapability to respond to the tourists' security needs. The forenamed threats play a vital role in the decision-making of tourist before choosing the South African destination.
The criminogenic situation in South Africa has made visiting the African areas outside of the touristic zone impossible; the bright example is the suburbs of Johannesburg. On the other hand, the most civilized area in terms of tourism is Western Cape. The country, in general, is characterized by a relatively high level of sanitary conditions and catering arrangements (restaurants, bars, and cafes) (Thornton & Feinstein, 2002). Diseases transmitted with food and water, such as amoebiasis and typhoid fever, are common in several South African regions. Other regions present the danger of getting hepatitis A. Tourism safety in South Africa has to be addressed urgently and adequately; it should be addressed as the strategic priority of the industry. As for today, 88.52% of the tourists consider safety and security the primary threats associated with South Africa as a touristic destination (Crouch, 2011).
The regions of Gauteng and KwaZulu?Natal are to implement a severe crime control system in order to become safer places for the foreign tourists (Steyn & Spencer, 2011). The matter requires a well-coordinated positive touristic safety climate. Consequently, the government of South Africa has to offer a dual perspective to its tourists. On the one hand, it should reveal the potential harms while, on the other hand, encourage the safety of a given destination. The tourist industry is to be presented as a national priority enhancing the economic development of the region. The latter one is to be influenced by the South African government promoting tourism and applying it as a base of the educational and labour system. The government needs to follow its National Tourism Sector Strategy (NTSS) strictly. The strategy aims at making South Africa one of the regions listed in the top twenty global tourist destinations by the year 2020 with the help of the South African New Growth Plan (Department of Tourism, 2011, p. 3).
Issue #2: Public Transportation
South Africa has an extensive and well-developed transport system. The quality of its highways is considered a relatively developed area as more than one-third of all roads in the region has an asphalt surface. The allowed speed limit is 120 kilometres per hour on the country’s highways, and 60 kilometres per hour in the cities (United Nations Department, 2011). In the case of speeding, the fine is to be paid on the spot. All the major highways of the South Africa are paid. The majority of the cities in the region are interconnected with the air routes as the best way of travelling from one distant city to another one is by plane. The bulk of air traffic is carried by the national airline, South African Airways. The inadequate development of standard public transportation results in the prevalence of the air transport in the South African region.
Public transport in South Africa is poorly developed, because it is mostly used by the poor black population of the country. This type of transport is represented by the double-decker buses and taxis. The white citizens of South Africa usually travel by private cars. Therefore, South Africa is in a drastic need of the practical and sustainable public transport network necessary for attracting more tourists and transforming South Africa to a desirable tourist destination (George, 2008). Nevertheless, the taxis remain the most common means of transportation in South Africa resulting in a high death rate due to the issues related to the insufficient technical maintenance. As a result, 86.88% of tourists consider the problem of public transportation the second rated concern associated with the perception of South Africa as a touristic destination (Crouch, 2011). Consequently, the tourists are not provided with a choice of transportation in the South African region.
The Gautrain Management Agency has to introduce the coordinated patterns into the South African public transportation system. The latter can be transformed only under the condition of changing the overall perception of the national public transport in order to satisfy the visitors of various economic backgrounds (Hatchuel, 2001). It is especially acute for the transport communication from Cape Town to Durban and Johannesburg (Manyathi, 2012). In order to provide more affordable transportation options, the government of South Africa needs to take efforts to double the amount of buses in the South African transportation system. The implemented plan by the Gautrain Management Agency is to be assessed as a major route in terms of public transportation (Macfarlane, 2012). In other words, the increasing public transport market share in the South African market can directly affect its economic development by making the country a more attractive tourist destination.
Issue #3: Marketing Patterns
South Africa clearly reveals an inadequate level of both domestic and international marketing patterns, which are essential in stimulating the growth of the tourism rate in the region (Bennett, 2000). The marketing methods employed by South Africa indicate the vital necessity to offer an effective package to the tourists (Boniface, Cooper, & Cooper, 2009). South Africa is in a desperate need of reinforcing its safe and attractive image and, thus, improving its market intelligence. The latter task is impossible to achieve due to the absence of modern techniques and methods of attracting the attention of the tourists. Generally speaking, South Africa lacks the established contacts with customers and prospects, which require the involvement of intermediaries and the development of such special equipment as transportation among the tourist zones.
From the perspective of clients, the tourist product must conform to their value, convenience, and timeliness. Tourists always weigh the costs and benefits of South African destinations, as well as time, effort, resources, and potential profit in acquiring the new experience, having fun, and obtaining relaxation and memories. Amenities include the travel time from the airport to the place of accommodation, lack of a language barrier, cleanliness and sanitation, access to places of interest, and special needs (the elderly, disabled, and children). The actual failure of the South African marketing patterns to satisfy the forenamed needs at the moment complicates the tourist rate growth. As a result, 61.40% of tourists consider the problem of the national tourist marketing the third-rated concern associated with South Africa as a touristic destination (Crouch, 2011).
The institutions of the South African touristic marketing need to develop a brand of the offered products, create a new image, stress the product derivation, and focus on the exclusive characteristics of the destination (George, 2008). In addition, South Africa needs to demonstrate the ability to respond to the major tourist needs and desires and stimulate the market interest to the given region. The latter issue has the capacity of providing innovative opportunities for the South African economic growth and development. In other words, South Africa is to take affirmative steps in order to create a positive local and international image, attract investments, and achieve a sustainable economic growth.
The given report studies the three major weaknesses and threats associated with tourism in South Africa: safety, public transportation, and marketing patterns. All of the three analyzed issues possess the capacity of being transformed into opportunities and strengths of the country as a tourist destination. The evident impressive potential of South Africa is supported by the WEF Travel and Tourism Competitiveness Report, which gave South Africa the tenth position among the most attractive natural sites (National Tourism, 2011, p. 8). The South African policies should focus on increasing the economic growth by means of implementing positive changes in the three development factors. In other words, the tourist system of South Africa needs the long term marketing strategies and destination competitiveness models.