KLCBT Annual Report and Presidential Inauguration – 22 April 2021

Former President’s welcome

Old-president of KLCBT, Mr Johan Barnard welcomed the 95 guests and members in attendance and gave a moving sketch of the uncertainties and panic of the last year and how he personally found calmness and faith in the eye of the Covid-19 storm.  “There is no new normal—this is normal.  Plan and operate as if today will last forever.”

Audit report for the year ended 31 December 2020

Mrs Margaret Raubenheimer, from KLCBT’s auditors, A2A Kopano, presented the financial statements and unqualified audit report (this is the good one!) for the past year, which showed a 45% drop in revenue, but due to cost cutting measures, the company managed to end the year with a positive result. 

COO’s remarks on the financial     results

Major loss of income was due to no SANParks commissions earned between end March and end August. 

The entity had no advertising income as no tourism shows took place, no maps were produced and very little data base advertising was booked. 

We were also not allowed to host any events (no golf day, no annual awards, no networking breakfasts), which is the second biggest source of income for the chamber. 

On a positive note, the certificates of origin performed exceptionally well due to the favourable exchange rate for exports, but in no way could it ever make up for the losses. 

Meanwhile we have never worked so hard in our lives and all of this from home…

We booked and rebooked and rebooked…clients for the parks, as lockdown dragged on and we kept members up to date with critical information. We also gave daily input in surveys and strategies of all spheres of government to ensure they have accurate data to plan ahead and to assist them to make sound plans for recovery.

All of this while we had no income….

So how did we survive and managed to keep all three our offices open?

We put staff on compulsory leave for the first few weeks, this is why the provision for leave pay reduced by a fair margin as Margaret pointed out.

When lockdown entered May of 2020 we then had no other choice and went out to request donations from members to sustain us until March 2021 (a rather accurate estimate at the time!), this is why we have a surplus on the books.  It is the funds remaining to use for the first 3 months of 2021.  As it were, we had our first event on the 4th March 2021!

We also put a total embargo on spending anything on marketing and we cancelled all arrangements with consultants.  This enabled us to retain all our permanent staff with no retrenchments and at full pay during lockdown.

I would like to sincerely thank our staff for your dedication and your faith to carry on during a very difficult year.

COO’s report on KLCBT’s many   advocacies and marketing plans

KLCBT covers a vast array of advocacies (things to fight for) and initiatives and the organisation is both nimble and flexible to quickly respond and evolve in a direction which is important to a growing business environment. 

Below is the full presentation including all the marketing initiatives that we can look forward to in 2021, like the Treasure Hunt App, the African Spotlight workshops, our own targeted virtual shows and the new Kruger Lowveld booking website as well as a brand new map book that includes detailed maps and activity maps of all the towns.  We will also produce a revised Daytrips and Activities booklet for the Kruger Lowveld in the next few weeks.

Oupa Pilane gives perspective on the Road to Recovery

Kruger Lowveld Chamber Of Business & Tourism

The Road To Recovery

Members of the Board

The COO

Esteemed Members

Our Guests

Ladies & Gentlemen

Its been more than a year since the advent of the COVID-19 pandemic, there is no doubt that the impact has been devastating as we face a delayed return to normal travel and tourism.

As much as we were predicting that global tourism could start to rebound by Q3 2021, but new variants of the virus, delayed global vaccination rollouts and unpredictable waves of new infections suggest that the recovery of international tourism will occur more gradually. We can assume that we will start seeing significant recovery in 2023/24.

South Africa is still experiencing reductions in international tourism of more than 70% compared to pre-covid, having been red flagged in over 122 countries which includes our key source markets.

Overseas arrivals

International travel from overseas source markets still remains low. Since opening the borders to International travel (Aug 2020), the top 3 source markets were the United Kingdom, Germany and United States. Most countries, however, are still 90% lower than the previous year.

African arrivals

Similarly, travel from African countries remains low. The top 3 sources of arrivals into South Africa were Zimbabwe, Mozambique and Lesotho. Arrivals in top African countries are still 62-94% lower than the previous year. African arrivals are however, almost 10x higher than that of international arrivals, highlighting the importance of regional travel for rebuilding the tourism sector.

DOMESTIC TOURISM

Domestic tourism remains key to the resilience of the tourism sector showing a 10-60% reduction between August and December, as opposed to the 80-100% reduction in international tourism.

Domestic tourism resumed in late July 2020, and since then we have seen total overnight trips recover to levels approximately 50% lower than in 2019. Spikes of holiday travel occurred during October and business travel spiked in September and November. Overnight trips to visit friends and family (VFR) spiked shortly after domestic travel was opened, mostly likely as a result of accumulated demand during lockdown.

The effects of the second wave of COVID-19 infections and the associated regulations can be seen in the contraction in tourism which occurred during December, with total trips tapering to 60% lower than the year before. We were fortunate as a province that we did not make it to the list of hot spot areas and most of our members were able to breath a sign of relief from the December Holidays.

Demand for day trips also still remains low, with most months seeing up to a 50% reduction in day trips taken. However, these trips contribute the most trips to the domestic tourism landscape. There is therefore significant potential for stimulating the tourism sector by resuming both overnight and day trips.

THE VACCINES

Our road to recovery will be impacted by the ability of the country to roll vaccination programme. Vaccines are going to be a critical tool in the fight to bring the COVID-19 pandemic under control and give assurance to travellers that we are a safe destination. We all know that currently we are not doing well as country in that regard.

We have had meetings with the department of health to discuss and agree that our tourism staff will be part of the frontline workers. We agreed that we’ll assist them in identifying vaccination sites for the tourism sector and also encouraging our staff to register for the vaccination programme. We will rely on you members to help us identify these sites and also to encourage your staff members, especially those that are 60 and above to register for the vaccination.

Creating Partnerships

We are continuing creating partnerships with various stakeholders including government.  Our relationship with the MTPA has improved and thanks to the efforts of the CEO that we are not able to jointly plan and implement marketing programmes together.  We are having an excellent relationship with the district municipality, and have seen improvement in some of our local municipality.  Thaba Chweu continues to be a challenge when it comes to service delivery and playing their part in tourism development, we will continue to seek an audience with the management and the Executive Mayor to improve those relations.

Roads

Our roads continue to be a thorn in the flesh and yet a critical infrastructure in our tourism recovery, we have for the last 10 to years been engaging provincial government in that regard with very little success. We are currently looking at engaging the national government through the department of transport to move some of the critical tourism roads to SANRAL as it has became evident that the provincial roads department is not able to come to the party.

Marketing

We are making goods strides in marketing our districts and we have become one of the most popular and visited regions by the domestic market. We are currently looking at printing 50 000 Maps, we are installing the big maps in every town and strategic filling stations, the social media marketing programme has improved and we are requesting members to share information about their products so we can market them our social media platform. We are launching the treasure hunt programme through an app to make the outdoors interesting with prices to be one by those that are participating and we will request members to support the initiative and partner with KLCBT to market it. 

Makhonjwa Mountain World Heritage Site

 We have had a consultative meeting with new MEC for Economic Development and Tourism in Barbeton regarding the appointment of a management committee for the site and have made our case clear that we as a sector and land owners would like the site to be management by a body outside MTPA – Batobic – and we are hoping that by the end oo the month the MEC will appoint a management authority for the site. The management authority needs to be as representative as possible taking into account the transformation agenda.

Township and Rural Tourism

For our tourism to strive and to offer a diverse basket of services and authentic experience it need to extend to our township and rural areas.  We would like every member to help in developing that side of tourism and ensure that those areas benefit from tourism as it bounces back.

Transformation

Transformation is critical in ensuring stability in our country; we are encouraging every LTO to have a person driving transformation programmes. We should not view transformation a legislative requirement but a moral thing to do.

LTO

We will soon be visiting each and every LTO as part of the KLT out reach programme. It is important that we get to meet every leader in the various chambers after such a long time to discuss mutual interest in the development of tourism in our region.

Members difficult as things stand now; I pray that we all make it.

I thank you.

A new President is Inaugurated!

A Presidential inauguration is unique to the KLCBT as a chamber and we were very proud to witness the inauguration of Sandra Jacobs as she assumed leadership of the organisation for the next term of two years.  The inauguration entails a pledge of integrity (below), followed by a physical hand-over of the constitution of the organisation from the outgoing president (Oupa Pilane) to the new President.

COO, Linda Grimbeek asked Jacobs to put her hand on her heart and repeat the pledge of integrity after her:

“I, Sandra Engela Jacobs, hereby pledge that I will uphold and promote good integrity in all my dealings, actions and attitude and that I will not ignore or allow any action that will harm or tarnish my integrity…

I pledge to be honest, to be respectful, to empower others and myself with knowledge, I pledge to be fair and to live with the spirit of Ubuntu…

I am because we are…”

Congratulations Madam President!

Sandra Jacobs inspires with a captivating inaugural speech

Ladies and gentlemen, madam programme director

There is no doubt in my mind that the past year has been one of the most difficult for business and tourism.  The covid 19 Pandemic has wreaked havoc and our country’s economy is on its’ knees. I would be living in a fools paradise if I had to promise you today  that 2021 will be much better. But what I do know is that we are now better prepared and aligned to face the challenges. We  have learnt, over the past year, that we cannot always determine our circumstances, but we can most certainly  determine how we respond to the challenges coming our way.

Businesses – and here I include tourism businesses,  have found new and innovative ways of doing , adapting and surviving the blows.

All is not grim for the year ahead:  the economy is slowly taking a turn  for the better. The Exchange rate is favourable and inflation is low. Our stock exchange is performing well and showing vast improvement over 2020. The agricultural sector is doing well. All of this shows promise that  2021 will see a slow but steady  recovery in business in general.

I am extremely proud to be part of the Kruger Lowveld Chamber of Business and Tourism. I believe that this organisation, under the leadership of my predecessors and the competent management and staff at KLCBT, which represent 807 members  has played a major role in creating an enabling environment for business, and it is certainly my aim to  further build on this legacy:

As the official representative body of business and tourism in the Kruger Lowveld (Ehlanzeni District), our main mandates are

1)to promote the region as a tourism and investment destination,

2) to provide a diverse suite of networking and marketing opportunities for our members, and 

3) to represent and speak on behalf of the business and tourism community of our area. We do this by building and maintaining meaningful relationships with all spheres of government as well as likeminded organisations, and by acting as liaison between these entities and the business community.

In the two years of my term, I will seek to fulfil this mandate to the best of my ability. I believe that we can survive and even thrive if we hold the values of the organisation dear and focus on what we can do here and now, every day.

  I am a marketer by profession, and those who have some marketing background will know about the 4 P’s in Marketing Product, Place, Price and Promotion. In my Covid Survival toolbox I also have 4 P’s.

The first in POSITIVITY

Not blind optimism. We have to face reality. But if we look at each of our problems and challenges, trying to find even a small glimmer of hope, we have a far better chance of surviving! A trusted way of doing this is by starting every day by listing at least 3 things which you are grateful for. No matter how dark things look, there  is always something to be grateful for: health, family, colleagues,  a car to drive in,  

The second P is PARTNERSHIPS

Now more than ever, we need to realise that we cannot live on an island where everything is just about me and I.  The values of Oath I took earlier speaks to this: In our dealings with each other, HONESTY,  RESPECT, FAIRNESS AND EMPOWERMENT are vital factors.  If business and government are not in partnership with these values in mind, we cannot thrive. If  we try every day to do just one small thing to improve not only our own businesses, but also that of another, we will build a community which will survive and thrive!

Create a job opportunity, do a referral, buy from a local entrepreneur, promote a fellow business, partner with someone. This is true UBUNTU. I am because we are. Through powerful partnerships we can EMPOWER.

If we are 100 people here today and each of us do this every day, there will be 3000 positive outcomes a month and 36 000 in a year. That is the power vested in just this group here today.

The third P is PERSEVERANCE

Abraham Lincoln  said that it is not about how many times you fall, but how many times you get up. In Afrikaans there is a saying, AANHOUER WEN. 

In the past year there were certainly times when giving up seemed to be the only thing to do.  It is in those times that  I remembered  what Newt Gingrich said:  perseverance is the hard work you do after you get tired of the hard work you  already did.

There are still many opportunities out there. It is our job to seek them out and pursue them. Without losing hope.

The fourth P in my toolkit is PRAYER,

I have no doubt that prayer is the one thing that can turn any situation around and that there is great power in prayer.

Prayer is the bridge between panic and peace.

In closing, ladies and gentlemen, I am the next link in a long chain of dedicated leaders that have served as President of the KLCBT. While I hold this torch I pledge to continue the important and valued work of those that came before me. I will represent the KLCBT membership professionally, I will foster and encourage growth of our organisation, and I will personally be of service to as many members as I am able.  I will do my best to establish and grow  good relationships between government and business.

Thank you again for the faith you have placed in me, and for the privilege to serve as President in the next term. I welcome your thoughts, your suggestions and your opinions. I will do my best for you, for our organisation and for our beautiful region, Thank you.  Nyabonga, dankie