Wilma den Hartigh
Hot Air ballooning is a popular tourist
attraction in Gauteng to experience a
spectacular South African sunrise.
(Image: Wilma den Hartigh)
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Gauteng Tourism’s “I’m a GeePee and this is my Gauteng” domestic tourism campaign was launched yesterday at the Maropeng Boutique Hotel in the Cradle of Humankind, west of Johannesburg.
“We want to encourage Gauteng residents to be tourists in their own back yard,” says Dawn Richardson, CEO of Gauteng Tourism.
GeePee is a reference to car license plates, which end in GP, for Gauteng province.
Why travel in Gauteng?
Gauteng may not have a mountain or golden beaches, but this doesn’t mean that it has nothing to offer when it comes to tourism. On closer inspection, you will notice the adventure, beauty, cultural diversity and historical significance of the province.
The campaign is designed to get Gauteng residents to travel and create a culture of holidaying in the province. Gauteng MEC for Economic Development, Qedani Mahlangu, says that tourism is important to grow the economy of the province.
The goal of Gauteng Tourism’s strategy is to increase money spent by people living in the province, and promote the province to those outside Gauteng.
Mahlangu says that the tourism campaign also wants to ensure that visitors to Gauteng have a positive experience of the province, receive good service and come back to visit again.
Richardson says that Gauteng residents travel the most and are responsible for the majority of tourism growth in other provinces. “We want to get GeePees to spend time in Gauteng, be it a day trip or a weekend away,” she says.
GeePee loyalty card
The campaign is calling on Gauteng citizens to own their province and be proud of it.
Instead of using the first available opportunity to go elsewhere in the country, the campaign’s goal is to provide incentives for Gautengers to see the sights in their own neighbourhood.
To encourage Gauteng locals to travel, the campaign has launched the “I’m a GeePee” loyalty card, which is available free of charge. The loyalty card gives locals an opportunity to explore the province more widely, at a fraction of the cost.
Gauteng Tourism aims to reach more than 120 000 households in the next year through the programme.
New travel deals will be uploaded regularly on www.gauteng.net. On presentation of the card, locals can redeem discounts on tourism attractions, events, hotels, restaurants and spas in Gauteng.
From September locals can sign up for a GeePee card at visitor centres in selected shopping malls across the province. Alternatively, go to www.gauteng.net to download a digital version of the card by submitting your mobile number to receive a SMS version.
Throughout September, local radio station Kaya FM will also feature a “Deal-A-Day” offer whereby listeners can get good discounts on attractions, destinations and experiences in the province.
Kaya FM will also give away hundreds of free tickets to Gauteng tourist attractions and events.
Celebrity GeePee ambassadors
A number of local celebrities who love the Gauteng region and its main city Johannesburg have also pledged their support in promoting the province. Richardson hopes that the campaign’s celebrity ambassadors will encourage every person in Gauteng to be a proud tourism ambassador for the province.
Kaya FM DJ Georgie, musicians Kwela Tebza, Pops Mohamed, Sipho Mabuse, Danny K, HHP and Wouter Kellerman, as well as presenter Penny Lebyane, fashion designer Craig Jacobs, dancer Thabiso Lekuba, and businesswoman Rose Francis are all doing their bit to promote Gauteng.
When South African multi-instrumentalist and jazz musician Pops Mohamed was approached to participate in the campaign, he immediately thought it would be a great idea.
“I feel proud to live here and I love it. The idea behind the campaign falls right in line with my work to protect and preserve indigenous instruments,” Mohamed says.
He has lived in Johannesburg for most of his life and he can’t stop talking about its unique vibe. “This place is exciting and its vibrant spirit sets it apart as a unique African city. There is just something magical about it,” he says.
Award-winning South Africa flautist Wouter Kellerman, who is known as one of the country’s leading instrumentalists, describes Johannesburg as a “melting pot of cultures”.
“Those of us who live here are privileged because we have access to many cultures. When I travel overseas I get to see many other cultures, but I find them empty and lacking in the vibrancy of our people here,” Kellerman says.
He says it is impossible not to reflect the vitality and energy of the city in his music. “I am so enthusiastic about South Africa, but more specifically Johannesburg and Gauteng. The culture here is just amazing,” he says.
As a GeePee ambassador, he would like to see more people in Gauteng discover their surroundings.
“I want people to know that Gauteng is a fantastic place to visit and explore – even if you live here. The people of this province are so interesting and friendly,” he says.
“Your Street” Challenge
At the campaign’s launch, Design Indaba founder Ravi Naidoo also launched the “Your Street” challenge in association with Gauteng Tourism. Naidoo says that the competition is opening the floor to Gauteng designers and residents to think of creative ways to enhance their immediate environment – the street where they live or work.
He says it is becoming more important to rethink the design of cities. By 2050, 75% of the world’s population will live in cities and they should be pleasant places to live in.
“A good city to live in is a good city to visit. This is why the campaign is important to make streets in the city more tourist friendly,” he says.
Residents tend to complain about life in the city, but this is the ideal opportunity to make a difference.
“Don’t sit in coffee shops and have a whinge and a cappuccino. Rather come up with an idea to make things better,” says Naidoo.
Anyone with an eye for design can submit ideas, whether they are landscapers, architects or fashion, craft, new media or graphic designers.
“What we want people to do is to ask themselves what they could do to improve the quality of their street. Ask yourself what is missing and what it needs,” Naidoo says.
It could be a vendor stand for a flower seller on the street corner, a coffee shop, a playground for children, or an urban farming initiative to plant vegetables.
The winning submission will be judged on the best design idea that has a sound business model. The winner will receive a grant of R100 000 (US$14 000) to implement the idea. Three second-place winners will each receive R50 000 ($7 000) for an innovative design solution that can be implemented immediately with the prize money.
The project has already been launched in Cape Town and has had a good response. The initiative has also attracted international attention and will be launched in Vienna in October.
Upcoming GeePee campaigns
Later this year, the campaign will run a competition to select youth ambassadors, making use of social media to promote Gauteng destinations to young people.
The youth market segment represents emerging travellers who are 18 to 35 years old who travel, but who can be convinced to travel more and help create a culture of holiday travel in South Africa.
The campaign will also be extended to include “BabaGeePees”, a kids clothing range. This leg of the campaign is aimed at young mothers, who are often the travel decision makers in the household.
Mohamed says it is sad that many people are more familiar with other continents such as Europe, yet they don’t know the treasures of their home province and country.
“When a long weekend or holiday is coming up, many people always want to escape the city, but if you take a short drive, you can escape it all right here in Gauteng,” he says.