We need to put our faith in local travel

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We need to put our faith in local travel
Jerry Mabena

You’ve heard it before and it should be stated again — tourism has been decimated by the Covid-19 pandemic. The stats are alarming and there’s no denying that there’s an uphill battle that the industry still needs to fight. However, this hasn’t stopped Jerry Mabena and his team from investing in local travel.

As the chairman of the newly invigorated Jurni South Africa, a platform for tourism SMMEs and travelers alike, Mr Mabena is not shy to take on more responsibility in this sector. He is a firm believer in local travel and in domestic tourism as a way to combat the struggles of the past year.

Jurni, a company implementing the national tourism visitor information system project of the Department of Tourism, falls under the management of Motsamayi Tourism Group umbrella and it is a testament to this. It is an accommodation booking system and listing platform for attractions, experiences and other related tourism products. It is by locals, for locals.

“We are seeing a pent-up demand for local travel experiences and trips,” Mr Mabena noted. “And we want to meet the market where it’s at. I truly believe that South Africa has wondrous adventures to offer and we are eager to show these.”

“The biggest contributor of tourism in South Africa has been the international tourist. However, the recent resurgence in domestic travel is also a testament to the fact that SA has a budding domestic tourism sector. And we believe that it is about to enter an amazing blooming phase. Just note the number of people going on hikes and the increase in nature-bound travel to destinations like Kruger National Park. These buds need support and Jurni is well placed to be the connector and facilitator of this process.”

“My team and I are committed to showcasing these and to building our tourism industry to a point where we don’t only have to rely on international visitors but our local people, too. The technology that we are building will connect our local products and travellers.”

In the last few years Mr Mabena has been committed to local tourism; this has seen him being appointed as a group chief executive officer of Motsamayi Tourism Group, chairman of University of Johannesburg’s Schoool of Tourism and Hospitality, deputy chairman of Tourism Transformation Council of South Africa (TTCSA) and recently he has accepted the role of deputy chairperson the Tourism Business Council of South Africa (TBCSA). These roles place him in a great position to put the technology developed by Jurni at the heart of transforming the tourism industry.

In this new role, Mr Mabena assists the chairman and TBCSA chief executive officer,Tshifhiwa Tshivhengwa, and his team with its mission of being the unified voice of business in the travel and tourism sector on all levels.

“The TBSCA has done amazing work as an advocate for the industry during these trying times and even before this pandemic,” Mr Mabena said. “I’ve been part of the team in other roles up to now, but I’m honoured to now be the deputy chairman as we fight to revive the South African tourism industry.”

As immediate next steps, Mr Mabena will assist the Jurni team with growing its presence among tourism SMMEs and local travellers who seek a new way of exploring lesser-known South Africa.

“We’re exceptionally excited about this refreshed product and we can’t wait to tell everyone more about it in the new future,” Mr Mabena concluded.