South Africa has been making international headlines over recent months.
The last time the country grabbed global attention to this extent, was when Nelson Mandela was released from prison and during the first democratic election in 1994.
More recently, the Marikana blood-bath, the rape scourge, “Blade runner” Oscar Pistorius killing his model girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp and the Daveyton police brutality incident have tainted our image locally and abroad.
South Africa has made the headlines across the world for all the wrong reasons over recent months – and even locally many appear to be disillusioned about what has been happening.
Speak to family, friends and colleagues in other parts of the world and the first thing they ask is what is happening in South Africa.
I travelled to the US late last year, weeks after the Marikana incident. People were constantly asking about the many mine workers who were shot dead by police.
It was heartening to hear last week that tourism numbers to South Africa were on the up. There is little doubt that the 2010 FIFA World Cup helped boost our image.
It’s time to restore our reputation internationally. We need an effective marketing campaign without delay. We need to tell the world that South Africa is still a rainbow nation and a country with excellent potential.
The International Marketing Council (IMC), now known as “Brand SA”, must invest more money right away.
All countries have their ups and downs – and the latter will hopefully be a passing phase.
As much as the focus is on the bad news, let’s remind ourselves and the world of the many good things happening here and what our nation has to offer.
South Africa is a tourist paradise. I met a group of visitors from India, Germany and the USA in Cape Town last week. They all raved about what we have to offer and vowed to return.
Most of them said they were “nervous, anxious, edgy and apprehensive” coming to South Africa because of all the bad press. But, they said they now had no regrets.
Let’s remind the world we are a premium destination. Investment opportunities are great.
With the value of the rand against major foreign currencies, visitors can have a relatively cheap holiday.
Social media also needs to be used to spread “Brand SA” message.
It is sometimes depressing to see all the negativity on Facebook and Twitter. As much as these platforms are used to vent, South Africans also need to use them to highlight the good. Yes, there is a lot of good.
Let’s all be Proudly South African. Spread the message! Put our country first and remember SA is “still alive with possibility.”