Interview with Suat Töre for New Focus Travel Magazine - March 2018 Issue
- Could you please tell us about yourself? How long have you been in Turkey as an Ambassador?
This is my third year in Turkey. I was born in Johannesburg and became active in student politics during the 1980s and later became a trade unionist. I received training from several educational institutes doing various business and management programmes including the Wharton School of Business, the University of Stellenbosch, Regenesys Business School, the Gordon Institute of Business and the University of Mumbai. I joined the Department of International Relations in November 2010 after serving as a parliamentarian since the first democratic elections held in 1994 which saw Nelson Mandela becoming the first democratically elected President of South Africa. I served abroad as Consul General in Mumbai before coming to Turkey in 2016 as Ambassador.
- As an Ambassador, what are your duties for the tourism industry?
My duties are to promote and create awareness of South Africa with the aim of strengthening relations between our peoples on a people to people basis. South Africa and Turkey are both very beautiful, very historical and cultural countries with long histories and civilisations. There is much for our people to enjoy in both countries. Of course tourism is also a business, and in this respect it is also my duty to promote tourism as a business. Turkey is one of the leading tourist countries in the world while South Africa’s tourism industry is growing steadily. Unfortunately tourism is also largely influenced by global and national economics but we should not allow this to deter us. Indeed we have made it easy for our people to travel to our respective countries, since we do not need to apply for visas as tourists for a 30 day period. We are greatful to Turkish Airlines which connects directly Turkey and South Africa which makes our work to be effective.
- Can you tell us about your projects to increase the number of Turkish tourists traveling to South Africa in 2018?
We are very pleased that South African Tourism has appointed a dedicated manager for Turkey in the form of Mr Sadiq Dindar. The Embassy will work very closely with South African Tourism to increase awareness of South Africa as both a tourism and business destination. Projects to be undertaken include continued participation in Turkey’s tourism fairs, ie EMITT and Travel Turkey, as well as a tourism roadshow, Turkish participation in South Africa’s largest tourism fair, INDABA and familiarisation trips so the Turkish trade can experience South Africa and thus offer better packages to the country. We also maintain very close relations with the travel media as well as general media in Turkey and publish travel news and articles regularly on the Embassy’s website and social media accounts.
- What do Turkish tourism professionals need to do to increase tourism with South Africa?
Turkish professionals need to increase their knowledge and experience of South Africa to increase tourism between our two countries. There is no substitute for first-hand experience but this works both ways. The South African tourism trade also needs to come to Turkey in order for our countries and people to strengthen relations. Participation in South Africa’s tourism and business trade shows will go a long way to increasing the market for both tourist and business purposes. Our tourism offices need to do more to increase awareness of the offerings by the two countries and market the experiences in order to encourage more volumes and spend.
- Where have you been in Turkey as a holiday destination? Where / what do you like most and why?
I travel extensively in Turkey for business purposes but vacation in Bodrum and Antalya. I particularly like the food, the hospitality and warmth of the Turkish people, the beauty of the country and its beaches. I have also done my bit in attending some of the sporting events such as the Ice Hockey championship and soccer matches mostly in Istanbul.
- What do you think about Turkish tourism and what should be done for improvement?
Turkey needs to increase its marketing of the country in South Africa as well as offer incentives for South Africans to stay over in Istanbul when they are transiting the city. As is well known, Turkish Airlines flies daily to South Africa i.e. Cape Town, Durban and Johannesburg with many South Africans transiting Istanbul to other destinations. This traffic and Istanbul as a hub transport city should be developed for the South African market. Turkey also host international events and conferences and should leverage on those by ensuring that they organise pre and post tours for delegates and participants.
- Do you like Turkish cuisine? Can you tell us your favorite meals, desserts, drinks etc. ?
I very much enjoy Turkish cuisine. My favourites are desserts – Gaziantep Baklava with ice-cream. I also enjoy Adana kebabs, , Aran and Turkish wines.
Publisher and Editor in Chief at S&M Publication Ltd, Mr Suat Töre & Ambassador Pule Isaac Malefane