Left to his own devices

Dr Malinga. Picture: Clare Appleyard

South African tourism shrewdly announced singer Dr Malinga as one of the brand ambassadors of their “Sho’t Left” campaign which is enjoying its second coming after the “Vaya Mzansi” initiative proved less successful.

With Malinga, what you see is really what you get. The goal of the initiative is to get South Africans to travel in their own country, and unlike other, more PR-savvy ambassadors, Malinga does not hold his tongue. “This campaign has really been an eye-opener for me as I got to travel to places in this country where we, as black people, would not normally go to,” he said. “I can’t swim, but I went river rafting and I really enjoyed quad biking. These are activities that we don’t really take part in, but I want to say that we can do all these things and enjoy them.”

The revamped campaign has been dubbed “Nothing’s More Fun Than A Sho’t Left”, and the adverts feature Malinga as he takes a group of friends around the country experiencing the beauty and friendliness that South Africa offers tourists.

The television commercials, which began flighting this month, show the group road-tripping, making spontaneous stops to take in the scenery, local hospitality and flavours, and enjoying everything from taking a shower under a waterfall to having a relaxing beach braai.

This is exactly the kind of fun activities that domestic tourists can indulge in and that are affordable and within reach.

Minister Of Tourism Marthinus Van Schalkwyk regaled those at the launch with figures about the healthy state of tourism in this country.

“In 2012, 12.5 million adult South Africans took 25.4 million trips and spent an average of 4.8 nights away from home per trip,” he said. “Last year’s tourism growth definitely confirms that our investment in tourism promotion and campaigns are bearing fruit. South Africa’s tourism growth rate, well above the global growth rate, justifies the need to celebrate tourism. This industry contributes 2.9% directly and 9% overall to our GDP.”

After the formalities, Malinga took to a rather small stage for a performance that even got the minister on his feet. Malinga is no longer seen as a funny musician but as an entertainer who remains true to himself.

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