Tourism strategy aimed at boosting economy

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Pretoria - The National Tourism Sector Strategy (NTSS) will play a major role in positioning tourism as one of the pillars of the South African economy, Tourism Minister Marthinus van Schalkwyk says.

"We all know that the tourism sector in South Africa, and its contribution to our gross domestic product (GDP), has grown tremendously in the last two decades. As a national department, and an industry, we believe we have not yet reached our full potential and the NTSS is intended to provide clear guidance on how to grow tourism's absolute contribution to the economy," he said.

Speaking at the launch of the NTSS at the Luthuli Museum in KwaDukuza, KwaZulu-Natal on Thursday, the minister said the vision of the NTSS was to position South Africa as one of the top 20 tourism destinations globally by 2020.

The overall goal of the strategy rests on four pillars - to drive the tourism economy; enhance visitor experiences; position South Africa as a destination of choice and sustain good governance in the industry.

The key focus areas of the NTSS are arrivals, GDP and job creation.

The strategy will work towards increasing the number of tourists to the country, with the target to increase the number of foreign tourist arrivals to 15 million in 2020. It will also aim to increase tourism's contribution to the GDP from an estimated R189.4 billion in 2009 to R499 billion by 2020.

In the area of job creation, the tourism sector is working towards creating 225 000 jobs by 2020.

To achieve all of this, the NTSS will focus on domestic tourism, with the intention to increase the number of domestic trips from 30.9 million in 2009 to 54 million by 2020.

Regional tourism will also be targeted, with South Africa looking to take advantage of markets such as outbound tourists that have not been tapped into in the past.

Attention will be given to emerging markets and business tourism and in particular, business events.

South Africa has already secured 200 international conferences for the next five years, which is estimated to attract 300 000 delegates and provide an economic boost of more than R1.6 billion.

In this regard, van Schalkwyk announced the establishment of a National Convention Bureau.

"We expect this bureau to make a significant impact in terms of, amongst others, consolidating, coordinating and strengthening our efforts to attract meetings and conventions to South Africa. The bureau will be established under the auspices of South African Tourism and will be operational early in the new financial year," he said.