Cape Town – Tourism Minister Derek Hanekom says R110 million has been set aside to promote domestic tourism.
The Minister said this when he tabled the department’s Budget Vote in the National Assembly on Tuesday.
With the department set to host the Tourism Indaba 2016 on Saturday, the Minister said the growth of domestic tourism depends on government’s ability to make the country’s tourist attractions and facilities accessible and affordable for more locals.
“SA Tourism has been allocated R110 million to promote domestic tourism this year. Amongst several other initiatives, a series of television commercials have been produced telling the stories of South Africans travelling for the first time and how much it means to them. This will inspire others to do the same,” he said.
Minister Hanekom said the Association of Southern African Travel Agencies and SA Tourism are forging a partnership to extend corporate travel into leisure.
He said a project has been initiated to take children on visits to the World heritage Sites and attractions operated by the South African National Parks and South African National Biodiversity Institute.
“This will help ignite their curiosity about their country and the many special places to visit. It will also establish … their desire to become tourists in their own country.
“This is really just the beginning – the promotion of domestic tourism and the creation of opportunities for lower income South Africans to share in the wonders of our country is so important to us, that there is much, much more to come,” the Minister said.
Sho’t Left to new attractions
The Minister said, meanwhile, that the department will in the coming financial year support the enhancement of existing attractions.
He said this will include the building the Shangoni Gate as a new access point into the Kruger National Park; a Wild Activity Hub in Phalaborwa, and a visitor centre at the Tsitsikamma Big Tree.
The Minister also said the department is funding enhancements to picnic facilities and the experience lab at the Cradle of Humankind in Maropeng, where the discovery of Homo Naledi last year sent visitor numbers soaring.
Minister Hanekom said on Robben Island, where former President Nelson Mandela and other political prisoners spent many years in jail, visitor information services are being enhanced, guides are being trained and crucial information is being digitised.
“This means that this precious legacy will be preserved for future generations.
“This year, we will enhance signage and information at iconic national heritage sites that symbolise the life of Nelson Mandela – the Nelson Mandela statues at the Union Buildings and Freedom Park in Gauteng, the Nelson Mandela Capture Site in KwaZulu-Natal, and the Drakenstein Correctional Facility in the Western Cape,” he said.
National Tourism Sector Strategy under review
The Minister said the department was reviewing the National Tourism Sector Strategy, which is ten years old, against current trends in the domestic and international environment. The strategy will soon be published for public comment.
“One particular recommendation that I am acting upon immediately is the setting up of a Statistics Advisory Panel to address the need for regular, reliable and consistent information to guide the sector’s activities.
“The panel will advise on improvements required to current research and information systems, and recommend interventions,” he said.
The Minister said, meanwhile, to promote South Africa as the most sought after destination, protecting tourism’s most precious assets was important.
“Our establishments have won many global awards over the years. These awards show that our efforts to make tourism environmentally, economically and socially sustainable have made us world leaders in this field.
“The potential for this sector is endless. We must ensure tourism creates income and jobs. Indeed, it accounts for about 700 000 direct jobs.”