Govt teams up with Google to drive SA’s tourism sector

Staff Writer
By Staff Writer, ITWeb
Johannesburg, 14 Nov 2023
Google SA country director Dr Alistair Mokoena and Tourism minister Patricia de Lille.
Google SA country director Dr Alistair Mokoena and Tourism minister Patricia de Lille.

The Department of Tourism and tech giant Google have signed an agreement that will see the department leverage Google’s technology to boost tourism in South Africa.

The deal was finalised yesterday in Cape Town by tourism minister Patricia de Lille and Dr Alistair Mokoena, country director for Google SA.

“In an era of digital transformation, collaboration between technology giants and government entities has the potential to reshape industries and enhance public services,” says De Lille.

“As stated in the Tourism Sector Green Paper, there is a lack of support mechanisms for the sector, particularly SMMEs, to adapt to a digital future and other technological advancements.”

The goal of the collaboration is to harness Google’s tech to support the department’s efforts to promote SA as a prime tourist destination. It will facilitate knowledge-sharing, skills development and the use of digital tools to enhance tourism experiences and sustainability.

The department says no monetary exchange will take place as a result of the agreement.

The deal includes insights into global travel trends provided by Google, specific studies to investigate the impact of digital platforms and online content, digital skills training for SMMEs through the Google Hustle Academy and Google Ads training.

Tourism start-ups can be supported by Google programmes, such as the Start-up Accelerator and Black Founders Fund.

The deal marks an extension of collaboration between Google and the department. During the COVID-19 lockdown, a deal was signed to help SA become a virtual tourist destination.

Additionally, the partnership aims to showcase SA’s unique travel sites and hidden gems through the existing Google Arts and Culture portal.

Mokoena says Google is excited to partner with the department and sign the letter of intent, which aims to position SA as a great tourist destination.

“As a company that prides itself on 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,” adds Mokoena.

The partnership will also allow for the creation of a tourism thought leadership seminar, which will focus on the digital opportunities for accelerating economic growth in the sector.

“By tapping into Google's technology, through digital skills training and the sharing of insights, SA's industry, notably SMMEs, can present their offerings in innovative ways, engaging potential tourists and inspiring them to explore the country,” comments De Lille.

In September, the department signed a memorandum of understanding with accommodation-sharing platform Airbnb SA, allowing them to work closely to advance SA’s tourism sector and create more jobs.