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David is a former Special Advisor to Tourism Ministers Pallo Jordan and Vali Moosa. Thereafter, he was appointed as Managing Director of Tourvest’s Inbound Division. He subsequently set up his own tourism strategy consulting business, where he developed destination strategies for a number for SADC countries, the most successful of which was with Namibia in the mid-2000s. He has been at the helm of SATSA since September 2013.
David’s appointment has been lauded by leading tourism industry players. His deep understanding of source markets, distribution channels and consumer behaviour, as well as his passion for selling South Africa will provide an industry perspective to bolster SA Tourism’s activities, they say.
The appointment comes at a time when President Cyril Ramaphosa has publicly highlighted the role of tourism as a leading job creator, with the expectation that private sector will take the lead in untapping tourism’s potential.
“It is therefore important for industry board positions to be occupied by industry experts. All of us at the TBCSA are proud to have David on the SA Tourism Board. This will enhance our already strong partnership with them,” says Blacky Komani, chairperson of the Tourism Business Council of South Africa.
With decades of experience in the tourism industry, David is the most qualified person for the job, says Neil Markovitz, founder and Managing Director of Newmark Hotels, Reserves & Lodges.
“David’s operational background and global industry experience will contribute to a better understanding of our markets. More importantly, he can play a key role in addressing why our country hasn’t been able to grow to the extent that other countries have because of issues such as Open Skies and visa regulations.”
For Martin Wiest, Chief Executive Office Tourvest Destination Management, the fact that David has the ear of the industry means he can provide a strong link between SA Tourism and private sector and vice versa.
“The tourism industry and SA Tourism is not as connected as it should be and so this link would be invaluable.”
This sentiment is echoed by Craig Smith, Managing Director New Frontiers Tours. “David’s wealth of experience gives him a unique window on the workings of each aspect of the industry. His understanding of the industry encompasses how South Africa is perceived and represented in source markets, how to leverage this, and more importantly, what relevant key players require on the ground to support this.
“His appointment to the SA Tourism Board will bring an important communication link between the national directive and how this is represented to public sector, and in turn what the private sector requires to make this directive more effective.”
According to Craig, David is not afraid of frank talk and this is what is required to make local, provincial and national tourism entities more effective and understand the private sector requirements and the reality of doing business on the ground better. “On the other hand, he can also express to the private sector what their obligations are as mandated to SA Tourism as part of a broader picture.”
Mohamed Baba, Ilios Travel Managing Director and current board member of SA Tourism, says with David’s appointment comes an enviable level of private-sector inbound experience and knowledge that will bode well not only for SA Tourism, but for the whole country.” David’s presence on the board of SA Tourism is invaluable and will bring a new dynamic to our tourism sector and its ability to contribute to South Africa’s economy.”
SATSA Chair Tony Romer-Lee believes that David’s intimate understanding of the tourism industry will inform the country’s strategic tourism plans and tactical marketing.
“As a neutral link between SA Tourism and the tourism industry, David can identify the right people in the right markets and inform the country’s destination marketing efforts, in consultation with the travel industry, earlier in the planning cycle. He has this absolute ability to cut through the detail and see opportunities clearly.”
Says Frost on the appointment: “I’m deeply honoured to be appointed by the Minister. I have huge respect for team at SA Tourism and the great work they do. I would seek to foster closer synergies with the private sector around practical growth initiatives, that would amplify and enhance the current organizational strategy.”