MTPA and Kruger Lowveld establish a joint media liaison group

Dear Member,

Please find below an important Memo from the KLT/MTPA Tourism Tank Media Liaison Group. This contains our proposed guidelines for dealing with media stories at all levels including national, local and social media that have a direct impact on tourism promotion in the province.

It would be appreciated if you would read the document and the proposed recommendations. If you have any suggestions or questions, or if you are in need of any help in drawing up a public message of any kind, please do not hesitate to contact any of the members of the Media Liaison Group as stated below.

Our priority is to ensure that tourism is not negatively affected by the presentation of news stories and that we all work together in sending a positive message that will grow tourism in Mpumalanga. Your co-operation in sending a unified and balanced message is appreciated.

In addition, one of the purposes of the Media Liaison Group is to ensure a regular flow of co-ordinated good news stories with a generic marketing spin. You are invited to send your suggestions for inclusion. The aim is to get a major good news story out every fortnight, pulling in product from all over the province and to re-establish Mpumalanga as the biggest major multi-faceted role-player in South African tourism after the Western Cape. Proposed current and near-future topics are as follows:

  • Sustainable Tourism stories – recycling, cleaning up towns and roadsides, SANParks eco-initiatives;
  • Nature – birding, frogs, butterflies, cosmos. Ermelo, Panorama, Hazyview, Barberton Makhonjwa World Heritage Site, Wakkerstroom, Dullstroom, Chrissiesmeer;
  • Battlefields – Struggle Route sites, Berg-en-dal, Sabie, Volkrust (Laing’s Nek), Middelburg/Chrissiesmeer (Concentration Camps);
  • Poaching/Conservation – The good work done by OSVs and guides in the national parks (removing snares, assisting with injured animals and with accidents);
  • Hiking – Panorama, Makhonjwa, Chrissiesmeer, Marula Route (Camino) description – the Ultimate Hike!
  • Community Projects – Marula route (again) and how it works;
  • Flying in Mpumalanga – balloons, parascending, microlights;
  • Festive season attractions around the province
  • Tourism Safety initiatives.
  • Township and rural tourism development

If you have any suggestions for inclusion on any of the above listed topics, please send them to Chris Harvie (see below for contact details). It is important to note that there is no guarantee that your suggestion will be included, but the idea is to demonstrate the breadth of tourism product on offer throughout the Province.

What are we asking you to do?

1) We are asking you to stay ‘on message’ and always to be aware of any unintentional negative impact on tourism of any piece that is being published or any issue. The purpose is most definitely not to throttle, gag, bully or influence the media or to prevent the publication of news stories, but merely to ensure that there is no unnecessary negative impact on tourism or spin-off ill-effect on the province’s reputation. We are simply asking that we work together in addressing these negative issues so that we can reassure the industry and tourists that we are aware of the situation and have reacted accordingly.

2) To assist the Media Liaison Group by identifying/highlighting to us any news or comment published on any public, local or national media or social media platform which requires correction or mitigation for its impact on the image/reputation of the Province.

3) To help us to use ‘bad news’ stories to create ‘good news’ stories. (For example, when covering cases of corrupt traffic officials – a necessary bad news story – the bad news should be balanced by pointing out that, whilst the issue still raises its head from time to time, the number of cases affecting tourists has reduced dramatically since the rolling out of the anti-corruption cards in 2016 and that a number of arrests of corrupt officers have been made.)

4) To liaise with the KLT/MTPA/Media Liaison Group by means of the contact details given below, when you are concerned about the potential impact of a story and/or if you would like a comment or reaction from the tourism industry. All product owners and tourism bodies including Regional Tourism Organisations (Ehlanzeni, Gert Sibande and Nkangala) are requested to keep us informed of all contact with the media to ensure that, between us, we create a simplified, credible and united channel of communication.

5) To assist in getting the message out that Mpumalanga, above all, sees itself as a Tourism Province and to understand that pushing this message will encourage tourists to visit, to stay longer and to promote our various regions, thus creating jobs, generating revenue and assisting with poverty reduction. Conversely, not pushing this message will have the opposite effect.

Your assistance in getting our message across fairly and effectively will be much appreciated.

Please do not hesitate to get in touch with us on any media or image-related issue.

Tom Vorster (Kruger Lowveld Tourism) EMAIL:

Kholofelo Nkambule (Mpumalanga Tourism and Parks Agency) EMAIL:

Chris Harvie (Tourism Sector) EMAIL:

KLT/MTPA Media Liaison Group