In 2012, the SADC Committee of ministers responsible for tourism requested the RETOSA board members to start working on transforming the organisation.
“The ministers have finally approved the transformation. Essentially, the transformation entails bringing in the private sector to participate fully in the organisations’ programmes. The feeling was that we were lacking something by not involving it,” said Mr Mandinyenya, Acting Executive Director of RETOSA. “For the organisation to achieve its mandate fully, there has always been a need for transformation and it has taken longer for the ministers responsible for tourism to approve the changes. The expectation is that public sector members or representatives from member countries will now assist and engage the private sector and make sure that each country will be represented fully on the RETOSA board.
“The new structure will also see the national tourism board/authorities being the public sector’s representatives. In the past, the ministries were solely responsible for tourism. There will also be a new parallel structure which will deal with policy issues. This unit will be housed at the SADC secretariat. This is where new permanent secretaries will be meeting under the guidance of senior officials to discuss pertinent issues and to prepare and approve the agendas for ministerial meetings. In so doing, they will be in a position to advise ministers accordingly. This new dispensation, with the policy unit at SADC Secretariat, will allow us to ensure that policy issues are dealt with by the policy makers and the projects implementation is dealt with by private sector and tourism authorities,” said Mandinyenya. He also reassured all stakeholders that the organisation is now even stronger with the private sector coming on board and he asked that all stakeholders to support the organisation fully.
RETOSA, in conjunction with UNWTO (United Nations World Tourism Organisation), held the last technical workshop which focused on building the capacity of member states to collect and collate tourism statistics. Special focus was placed on the Tourism Satellite Account (TSA). “Although member states are now in a position to develop the TSA, there are still some challenges. Each member state must set aside the necessary resources to collect and collate data. It will be the responsibility of each member state to ensure that the institutional frameworks we have created under this programme are not only maintained, but strengthened and also resourced so that we will have a functional TSA,” said Mandinyenya.
The TSA has been one of RETOSA’s major successes. “We are proud to report that UNWTO indicated that our region is the first in the world to take the programme to the level that it has.”
“The work done on quality standards has also been extremely successful. We have developed harmonised regional quality standards as well as minimum standards that each member state must meet. We have gone even further and trained a pool of regional experts under the ‘Train the Trainer programme’. They will now be able to train assessors at a national level. This is a major achievement for RETOSA as it is the best practice case in the world as well,” said Mandinyenya.
Other projects that RETOSA has undertaken include sustainable tourism development projects of which the following programmes are most noteworthy:
- Community Based Tourism - we have developed the guidelines for member states.
- Southern Africa Youth in Tourism - under this programme, we run a regional competition for the youth which culminates in the Southern Africa Tourism Junior Minister.
In an effort to market the region using interactive social media, RETOSA has also revamped its website as the old website was lacking in certain useful information. RETOSA has also launched an e-learning programme which enables travel trade and stakeholders to become certified experts of the region even before they promote and market a certain country. They are able to do this in the comfort of their own homes, offices and on mobile devices.
RETOSA has also been represented at fairs and exhibitions where national and international travellers and media were present. It was represented at Sanganai/Hlanganani – World Travel and Tourism Africa Fair, the annual tourism trade fair organised by the Zimbabwe Tourism Authority and Zambia Tourism Expo (Zatex). RETOSA also attended Tourism Indaba in Durban. The three exhibitions showcased the widest variety of Africa’s best tourism products and attracted visitors and media from across the world.
- RETOSA invites global tour and travel stakeholders to join its Certified Expert Programme
- RETOSA Revamps Website to make it more user-friendly
- Train-the-Trainer Masterclass in Regional Tourism Quality Standards, Grading and Classification.
- RETOSA to showcase southern Africa in North America.
- Tourism Satellite Account Workshop a Resounding Success
- Coyote Japan Familiriasation Trip to South Africa
- Malawi Digital and Social Media Workshop For Malawi Tourism and Hospitality Industry
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