Domestic tourism surviving, despite recession

Tuesday, August 4, 2009
By: 
Nthambeleni Gabara

Durban - Despite the global economic recession, the South African tourism industry is surviving and doing well, says Tourism Minister Marthinus van Schalkwyk. 

Speaking at the launch of a mural, which is part of a tourism campaign known as Sho't Left, Mr Schalkwyk said the short haul and domestic tourism markets are proving to be very lucrative and valuable to South Africa. 

"Despite the international economic downturn, our local tourism industry has managed to keep its head above water and has in fact performed well amidst difficult circumstances. 

"Foreign arrivals to South Africa reached an all time high of more than 9.5 million in 2008 and we will undoubtedly reach our target of 10 million foreign arrivals in 2010," he said.

Mr Schalkwyk said the country cannot mainly rely on international tourists too heavily, as it can make the market volatile. 

"In this respect, it is extremely encouraging that short haul tourism has been performing so well. African land markets drove our growth in 2008, with 460 000 arrivals, which represents growth of 7 percent over 2007," he said.

In terms of domestic tourism, 14 million South Africans travelled domestically in 2008, which is one million more than in 2007.

Although the number of trips declined by 8 percent in 2007, the total annual spends on domestic tourism increased by 17 percent to R25.8 billion in 2008. 

"We understand from the latest domestic tourism figures that under the current market conditions, many South Africans and visitors from short haul markets are again discovering their own back yards.

"Visitors are again realising the exceptional value for money South Africa offers as a destination, and we must step up our efforts to boost domestic tourism," the minister said. 

He said local tourism was the basis of any national tourism industry, adding that the recent successful hosting of a variety of events added to the country's profile as a desirable destination of choice. 

As part of the Sho't Left campaign, the unveiled mural was a visual representation of the inspirational nature of the campaign. The campaign aims to increase the number of young domestic travellers. 

The campaign also makes it easier for South Africans to travel domestically by offering value for money packages through joint marketing agreements with the local travel trade. 

"The young artists who have created this artwork have given a vibrant and graphic representation of our destination that will appeal to other young people. 

"It also gives Durban residents a beautiful, engaging and celebratory portrayal of our country to look at as they go about their daily business," he said. 

The first mural wall art was unveiled in Newtown, Johannesburg, last year.

KwaZulu-Natal was the obvious choice for the second phase of the mural project as it received the largest number of domestic tourists in 2008. 

The wall mural at The Cube in Innes Road is a project of South African Tourism, in partnership with regional destination marketing organisations Tourism KwaZulu-Natal and Durban Tourism.

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