25 June 2014

Tourism minister to focus on transformation

On 26 May 2014, Derek Hanekom officially took office as South Africa’s new minister of tourism, having previously held the post of minister of science and technology.

Minister of Tourism Derek Hanekom (right) during his swearing in

This beautiful South Africa of ours is a great product to sell. Let’s do it together. – Minister of Tourism Derek Hanekom

Demonstrating his social media prowess in response to many messages of congratulations on Twitter, the new minister shared his sentiments: 'Must say, this beautiful South Africa of ours is a great product to sell. Let’s do it together!'

Since his appointment, Hanekom has made it clear that his objective is to facilitate transformation within the tourism sector, particularly at grassroots level.

Issues such as a lack of financial support, key rural attractions not benefiting from the industry, and insufficient involvement by local communities in tourism initiatives are some of the constraints identified by the Department of Tourism. The minister says these will be redressed via the National Rural Tourism Strategy.

In his maiden speech as minister of tourism, Hanekom acknowledged the initiation of a process of transformation, but said one of his key objectives will be to grow tourism at local government level and to identify growth opportunities.

He has also made reference to the National Tourism Sector Strategy and the Domestic Tourism Growth Strategy as priority areas.

Hanekom takes over as tourism minister from Marthinus van Schalkwyk, who held the post for five years and the post of minister of environmental affairs and tourism for five years prior to that. Welcoming his successor, Van Schalkwyk said he would ensure a 'smooth and seamless handover and transition'.

The director general in the Department of Tourism, Ambassador Kingsley Makhubela, believes Minister Hanekom will continue with the good work the department has done, and that through his leadership, the department will achieve its goals and objectives.

'We look forward to taking tourism to new levels under Minister Hanekom’s guidance,' he says.