Growth in tourism shows SA is progressing

Thursday, March 6, 2014

Pretoria - The number of tourists visiting the country shows that South Africa is a better place to live in, says Acting Government Communications CEO Phumla Williams.

“In 1993, South Africa received a mere three million foreign visitors. By 2012, the figure had grown to 13 million visitors.  South Africa remains a destination of choice,” said Williams.

South Africa this year celebrates 20 years of freedom and democracy.

Williams said the country had reached many milestones that were indicative of a stable, maturing democracy.

She said government had taken note of a report produced by the international organisation - End Child Prostitution, Child Pornography and Trafficking of Children - which was released in Germany on Wednesday.

The report highlights the sexual exploitation of children in the travel and tourism sector. Williams said government was encouraged that the report highlighted the successful arrests and prosecutions made in reported incidents.

“South Africa has made great strides in the protection of children, as well as the tourism sector since the advent of democracy. We will not let these criminal cases deter the country’s progression.

“The second quarter of 2013 saw just over 2.1 million tourist arrivals to South Africa, an increase of 1.5% (31 652) compared to the same period in 2012.

“This figure clearly shows that South Africa is a major tourist destination with unique features and the contribution made by the industry to sustain economic growth and poverty reduction.

“Like any other country, South Africa does encounter such crimes from time to time but government, together with its partners, continues to ensure the protection of our children,” said Williams.

Government committed to fighting child abuse

She said government was steadfast in its commitment to fight child abuse.

“The public is reassured that government is dealing decisively with criminal activities such as  statutory rape, sexual exploitation of children, including sexual grooming, child pornography and child prostitution,  in line with the Sexual Offences Act of 2007.”

The Act establishes severe criminal sanctions for those who are involved in child prostitution in any way, and it aims to give the affected child the necessary care and protection.

A Code of Conduct was signed between Fair Trade Tourism SA and the Department of Social Development for the protection of children from sexual exploitation in travel and tourism. The code covers the hotel industry, places of entertainment, tourism and related sectors.

“Any activity that infringes on children’s rights will not be tolerated. It is important to remember that South Africa ratified the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child on 16 June 1995. It was the first international treaty that the new democratic government ratified,” Williams said.

Last year, President Jacob Zuma signed the Prevention and Combating of Trafficking in Persons Bill into law, giving South Africa, for the first time, a single statute that tackles human trafficking holistically.

It criminalises human trafficking and other related offences, and has measures to protect and help victims. It also seeks to establish an inter-sectoral committee to prevent and combat human trafficking.

“Government calls on parents and communities at large to work with law enforcement agencies, non-profit organisations that deal with such criminal activities, and report such crimes.

“… We will not allow such impediments to infringe the rights of our children,” said Williams. –

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