For many of those in the tourism industry, which has been hard hit by the Covid-19 pandemic, there is little or no income and the outlook remains grim with as many as 600,000 tourism jobs possibly on the line this year alone. As a response to alleviate the pressure of the pandemic - and in true South Africa spirit - the Satsa Youth Chapter and its members have launched Mzansi Tourism Champions, an online platform dedicated to championing the needs of those working in the tourism field.
Satsa’s Garden Route Youth Chapter Chair, Heinie Bosman, is one of the founders of Mzansi Tourism Champions. He says it is a collaborative effort across sectors and one which hopes to bring immediate support or relief to immediate problems. "The website matches people in need with people who can help. It’s very much a platform of 'asks' and 'answers'. We hope that by building a network of people who can offer skills, advice and monetary donations that we’ll all be able to somehow weather the storm."
A 'strong collective' is the at the heart of Mzansi Tourism Champions. Any individual in the industry, from agents and operators, to freelance guides and business owners, can register on the website and set up a profile. Once they have a profile, they can either ask for help, or offer assistance.
"Through an honest, supportive and constructive platform, we aim to unify current efforts," says Bosman. "We want to bring various parties together to facilitate the distribution of donations, especially to those who are struggling to access relief funds and schemes."
Paying it forward through supportive collaboration
The platform is not focused solely on financial support. According to Bosman, Mzansi Tourism Champions will act as a marketplace for a number of different services, from free legal advice to design or copywriting skills.
"Essentially, the website aims to put two people together. For example, if Tom needs data for his work, he can post this request. Lizzy sees the post and has R100 available. She messages Tom directly in order to get his details and buy him some data."
In many ways, it is a simple, straightforward way for people in the tourism industry to support someone in need. But it is so much more. There will be "Think Tank" discussions on how to improve the industry, how to innovate for the future and collaborative discussions on how to solve pressing industry issues and dilemmas.
"We really hope that the industry will connect to share their wisdom, learnings and experiences over this time," says Bosman. "We’re confident that this platform will offer the support needed – and that people will pay it forward."
Mzansi Tourism Champions also allows participants (or champions) the opportunity to raise the profile of their own business, service or offering. One can write a blog about your travel adventures, share photographs and celebrate all that South Africa offers.
For Bosman, Mzansi Tourism Champions
is a community, a network and a safe space for the industry to come together: "Any collaboration is welcome, and we’re hoping that the website and social media channels will grow significantly over the next few weeks. While the need is great, so are the number of people with the skills, energy and will to help."
Heinie also shares his special thanks to Shanaaz Taliep from SATSA Youth Chapter and Tim Louw from Atlantic Point Hostel: "Between the magical combination of the three of us we have achieved phase one."
or call Heinie Bosman on +27 61 107 7625 for more information.