Tourism is about people: Van Schalkwyk

Sunday, May 8, 2011

Durban - While much emphasis has been placed on tourism being an economic vehicle, is it also about people, said Tourism Minister Marthinus van Schalkwyk at the opening of Indaba 2011.

Indaba, Africa's biggest travel and tourism show, officially opened at the Inkosi Albert Luthuli International Convention Centre.

"When we talk about tourism, we often talk about policies, statistics and objectives. Tourism is much more than that. Tourism is about people. The magic ingredient that differentiates tourism from every other economic sector is people," said van Schalkwyk.

The minister thanked the tourism sector for its contributions and said tourism is poised to play a greater role than ever before on the global stage and in the lives of South Africans.

"International tourism arrivals to South Africa grew by 15.1 percent in 2010, with the undoubted tourism highlight being our country's successful hosting of the World Cup. We are ready to turn this new potential into long term, sustainable growth," he said.

His message was aligned to this year's theme for Indaba, "Playing globally, winning locally", which encapsulates the ideals of shared and inclusive growth and job creation in the South African tourism sector.

This can be achieved by establishing a strong international presence in support of becoming a global player.

The minister said the recently-announced National Tourism Sector Strategy targets were only possible through a collaborative effort by all tourism stakeholders.

The targets aim to increase the number of foreign tourist arrivals to 15 million, the number of domestic trips to 50-million, increase tourism's contribution to the GDP from an estimated R189.4 billion in 2009 to R499 billion and aims to create 225 000 new tourism jobs by 2020.

"The ball is in our court to take our existing achievements to new heights. We have to take hands to leverage the strength and depth of our industry. We will not be able to achieve our vision for the next decade if we do not embark on this journey together," he added.

With nearly 3 000 international hosted buyers and visitors attending Indaba, the minister stressed that it remained Africa's most important tourism and business networking gathering, with the thousands of meetings taking place expected to generate millions of rands into the tourism economy.

Multi-Grammy award winners Ladysmith Black Mambazo, acclaimed actor John Kani, Durban mayor Obed Mlaba and KwaZulu-Natal Premier Zweli Mkhize were among the high-profiled guests.

Meanwhile, South African Tourism launched the second phase of their global marketing and advertising campaign "20 Experiences in 10 Days" internationally.

It set to showcase the destination to one billion people in over 600 million households in the next financial year on television commercials, print media and online.

It features the authentic experiences in South Africa of couples and friends from China, Brazil, Angola and Germany - key core and emerging markets.

"We believe that the best way to describe our country is that nothing about South Africa and her people is ordinary and that it is through our people that the destination experience is enhanced for visitors.

"The global economic crisis and the way it has fundamentally changed the world's economic and consumer landscape has necessitated a fresh look at how we continue to attract arrivals in the face of fierce competition from other destinations," said Thandiwe January-McLean.

She said SA Tourism's key marketing strategy will also pay particular attention to emerging markets which have shown considerable potential, in the Americas, Asia and Africa.

Additional global SA Tourism campaigns this year include the continuation of the National Geographic Adventurers Wanted campaign as well as a new Sho't Left Campaign encouraging domestic travel by South Africans.