A challenge highlighted by the current cultural and socio-economic environment is one of access and agency - how do arts organisations and the cultural sector get access to markets, particularly cultural tourism as a new and untapped market. Conversely, the National Department of Tourism (NDT) wants tourism and tourists to have greater access to cultural opportunities. The NDT has raised it as a need in the South African Tourism strategy, and arts, culture and heritage are considered to be one of the six pillars of tourism (the other four being active adventure, scenic beauty, city lifestyle, wildlife safari, and coastal beaches).
With this in mind, BASA partnered with the FirstRand Foundation and SA Tourism to create a map that easily makes accessible all the arts, culture and heritage sites and activities on an ongoing basis, as well as on a geographic basis, in South Africa, and links the user to accommodation options surrounding these sites and activities (this with the idea of tourists extending their “stay” time in those areas).
An initial beta model, artstourism.guru, was developed as the first iteration of the website, focusing on select arts festivals and events taking place around the country during different months of the year. BASA also worked with the SA Grading Council for this beta model, who supported the project by providing details of graded bed and breakfasts that we could include in the locations of or locations surrounding the events. To test the beta model, BASA hired a stall at the Tourism Indaba in KwaZulu-Natal to get feedback from the tourism industry and establish whether there would be a market for this particular map. Additionally, BASA interviewed the Chief Marketing Officer SA Tourism, as well as artists and arts organisations based in Johannesburg to get their input.
Based on the critical learnings and positive responses from testing the beta phase, and feedback from a design thinking and pitching process BASA went through with the FirstRand Foundation, BASA conducted further research to collect data on other arts, culture and heritage sites and activities, and is currently working on developing the original beta model into a live site, which will be launched once complete.