Pretoria – Tourism Minister Derek Hanekom says a successful and growing tourism industry will provide the means for social and economic development on a vast scale in Africa.
Opening Meeting Africa 2016 at the Sandton Convention Centre on Tuesday, Minister Hanekom said people throughout Africa will benefit significantly from the growing tourism footprint through the creation of more jobs, a bigger contribution to the GDP and more opportunities to become part of the tourism value chain.
The Minister said there is a big responsibility on the shoulders of tourism in South Africa and in Africa.
“We should all take on this challenge with vigour and pride because as we progress in this journey, we will be … alleviating the load for future for generations of Africans that will follow us.
“We will be putting growth and progress within their grasp, and we will be helping them to reach out and take up opportunities with both hands,” he said.
Minister Hanekom said over the last two decades, tourism has grown phenomenally in South Africa from around four million in 1994, to just under nine million in 2015.
The Minister said the growth represents more opportunities for people to get jobs, more opportunities for entrepreneurs to innovate, and more opportunities for communities to join the tourism value chain.
“Overall, this means more opportunities for social and economic advancement. We can do it for South Africa. We can do it for Africa,” he said.
In his State of the Nation Address, President Jacob Zuma announced that government will be investing R100 million to boost local tourism.
President Zuma said South Africa’s tourism sector should take advantage of the weakened exchange rate as well as the recent changes that were made to visa regulations to boost inbound tourism.
According to Stats SA’S satellite account, in 2013, 655 000 people were directly involved in producing goods and services provided to tourists.
Currently 1.5 million people are employed by the tourism sector, directly or indirectly.