President Cyril Ramaphosa says tourism is a thriving sector with tremendous potential for further growth and job creation.
“We tend to think of tourism as being associated with pleasure motives such as visiting iconic sites and getting involved in recreational activities, but it can also embrace business, education, health or religion as a basis for travelling,” President Ramaphosa said.
Speaking at Africa’s Travel Indaba at the International Convention Centre in Durban on Saturday, the President said there is growing global consensus on the need for countries to pursue paths of sustainable development in order to grow and transform economies, while minimising the impact on nature.
“We need to expand tourism in our countries to contribute to economic growth, increase our foreign earnings, bring more people into the mainstream of our economies and to boost related industries.
“Tourism is one of the most international of industries, for it is an industry that tends to showcase a country’s identity and offering to the world. Tourism has an extensive value chain, stimulating economic activity in manufacturing, in the services sector and in the creative and cultural industries,” President Ramaphosa said.
The President said the influx of visitors means more people get employment as tour guides, drivers, as caterers and as producers of memorable artefacts, to name but just a few.
“Local people are able to show off the attractions with pride for their history, their culture and traditions.”
President Ramaphosa said visitors to the many countries on the continent are able to engage in a range of sporting, recreational and leisure activities. He told delegates at the Indaba that as part of efforts to revitalise the economy, South Africa is focusing its energies on labour-intensive sectors such as agriculture, the oceans economy and tourism.
“We have set ourselves a bold target to raise over $100 billion in new investment over five years,” he said.
Promoting tourism throughout Africa
In his welcoming remarks, Tourism Minister Derek Hanekom told delegates that tourism is an industry that is resilient.
“Our country and our continent have unique stories to tell, unique stories to unite people. This Indaba is the biggest annual Tourism Indaba in Africa and has the potential to create jobs,” he said.
KwaZulu-Natal acting Premier Sihle Zikalala called on all the delegates attending the Indaba to be ambassadors of Africa.
Zikalala said the KwaZulu-Natal provincial government has committed to hosting the next four Indabas in the province.
“We want to pledge our commitment that these Indabas hosted in our province become one of the best in Africa,” he said, adding that tourism contributes greatly to the province.
Thokozile Khambule, a delegate at the Indaba from Inanda, told SAnews that as a small tourism business operator, she hopes that her business will grow as she has made contact with other business operators from other countries.
“Me being here has helped me a lot, as I have met with other business owners from other countries and we discussed how we are going to work together to grow our businesses,” she said.
Echoing the same sentiments was Mulalo Malada from Limpopo, who said the Indaba came at the right time, as she needed to expand her business.
“As a B&B owner, I need to expand my business outside the country. Tourists must know that in Limpopo there is accommodation and places they can visit.”
The four-day Indaba, which is hosted in Durban annually, provides a platform for African countries to showcase and market themselves as tourist destinations.
It also offers an opportunity for a dialogue on the collective positioning of “Brand Africa” to attract more tourists and grow the African tourism market.
The Indaba featured exhibitions from countries including Botswana, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Lesotho, Malawi, Mozambique, Namibia, Zambia, Zimbabwe, Madagascar, Rwanda and Uganda.
At the end of the Indaba, President Ramaphosa visited a number of exhibition stands interacting with the visitors. – SAnews.gov.za