/ 25 July 2011

SA seeks 15-million tourists by 2020

South Africa is aiming to increase the number of foreign tourist arrivals from seven-million in 2009 to 15-million by 2020, said Minister of Tourism Marthinus van Schalkwyk in a speech prepared for delivery on Monday at the South African Association for the Conference Industry meeting in Somerset West near Cape Town.

He added that it was also his department’s intention to lift tourism’s total contribution to the economy from R189-billion in 2009 to R499-billion by 2020 and the number of domestic tourists from 14.6-million in 2009 to 18-million by 2020 and to create 225 000 new jobs by 2020.

“SA’s status as a premier global leisure tourism destination is now firmly entrenched.

“The year 2010 was, in this regard, an exceptionally good one. On the back of the 2010 Fifa World Cup, our global visibility reached unprecedented levels. We have demonstrated that we have the capabilities; the welcoming culture; and the authentic offerings that the world’s ever more discerning travellers demand. Indeed, we made our mark.”

Van Schalkwyk said that the success story of SA’s hosting of this mega-event was showcased to a global audience of potential business travellers.

“They have seen our impressive infrastructure, our organisational skills and our natural beauty. They have shared in our success.”

Value for money
The minister added that SA had to continually enhance and leverage this global positioning.

“As a country we have already secured more than 200 events for the next five years. These events will attract about 300 000 delegates to our major business tourism cities and will contribute significantly to foreign direct spend into our economy.”

In the aftermath of the economic recession, global buyers had become increasingly adept at driving down costs.

“Our task is to carefully nurture our value-for-money reputation and present diversified offerings to the business traveller,” Van Schalkwyk said.

He added that he was aware of the challenges faced by the industry.

“I do understand that while the long-term trends for tourism are extremely positive, these trends are not necessarily translating into immediate profitability across the board. Upon analysis, however, this is quite understandable.”

The minister said SA was operating in an environment with increased capacity in terms of among others its accommodation offering, and the country was still feeling the effects of the global economic crisis.

“I want you to know we understand these challenges. And I want to give you my assurance that these are transient issues that will not disrupt our long-term positive growth prospects. I want to appeal to you to not lose faith and keep your eyes firmly focused on the many wins we have already chalked up.”

‘Ambitious strategy’
The minister added that the Department of Tourism was absolutely committed to working with South Africans in developing the potential of business tourism.

“This sub-sector is ideally placed to address some of the seasonality challenges that are difficult to meet through leisure tourism alone.

“One of the most important building blocks we have put in place as part of our new growth plans has been the first ever National Tourism Sector Strategy, which was approved by Cabinet on March 2.

The “ambitious strategy” represented government’s commitment to intelligent planning and policy formulation.

“It was developed over a two-year period in close collaboration with local and provincial government, an advisory panel of top industry minds, representatives of a variety of professional bodies, academia, tourism marketing agencies, civil society and the broader public.”

He added that the National Tourism Sector Strategy was a document that the entire sector was committed to.

“We have worked hard to ensure that our ambitious targets are co-ordinated and credible. The strategy rests on three pillars, namely driving the tourism economy, enhancing visitor experiences and ensuring sustainability and good governance in the industry.” — I-Net Bridge