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Monday, 13 November 2023 20:45

South Africa Tourism, Google sign tourism promotion agreement.

By Lehlohonolo Lehana.

Tourism Minister Patricia de Lille has signed an agreement with global tech giant, Google to support the use of digital tools to enhance tourism experiences and sustainability, and to facilitate knowledge sharing and skills development.

De Lille and Dr Alistair Mokoena, Country Director for Google South Africa, signed the agreement in Cape Town on Monday.

This partnership is in line with 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 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, focuses on non-monetary exchanges to leverage each parties' strengths for mutual benefits," de Lille said. 

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.

Mokoena said they were 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. 

Meanwhile, Google offers skills training programmes including the Google Hustle Academy and master classes, and these digital skills initiatives will be extended to provide training programmes for individuals and businesses within the Department's ecosystem.

This will equip local entrepreneurs with the digital skills needed to market their offerings online, potentially attracting a wider audience of travellers. The training will also include the fundamentals of Google Ads.

More than 2 773 South African small, medium-sized and microenterprises (SMMEs) have previously benefited from these support programmes offered by Google.

Tourism startups can also be supported by Google programmes, such as the Startup Accelerator and the Black Founders Fund, De Lille noted.

Further, the partners will collaborate to create a series of tourism thought leadership seminars to present commissioned research results on the opportunity and impact of online content and digital platforms in the tourism sector.

Google can showcase South African tourism sites and unique cultural heritage to the world through the Google Arts and Culture Portal.