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SSOUTH AFRICA, Durban – Saturday, 4th May 2019: South African President, Cyril Ramaphosa, ensured that Africa’s Travel Indaba ended in style when he attended the final day of the trade show at the Inkosi Albert Luthuli International Convention Centre in Durban, today.
The president’s address to a crowd of local and foreign tourism delegates and media capped off what was a highly successful Africa’s Travel Indaba.
Throughout his address, Ramaphosa emphasised the tourism industry’s importance in growing Africa’s economy and promoting a country’s identity. “Tourism is the one of the most international industries as it showcases the country’s identity and offerings to the world. If you want to showcase what you produce, clothing, food and arts, tourism is that window all of us can present to the world.
“As the global citizens we all are, we are separated my many things, boundaries and borders. But we are united in our affinity for our love for this great continent, Africa.”
He added tourism has an extensive value chain that stretches as far as manufacturing, the services sector and creative and cultural industries. “This is a sector of our economy that can grow exponentially and I believe we have not reached its full potential. We tend to think of tourism as associated to pleasure motives all the time. But it can also embrace business tourism, education tourism, health tourism and religion. Tourism is the new gold mine.”
Ramaphosa said that Africa, with its natural biodiversity, wildlife and 35 World Heritage sites that include the Timbuktu in Mali and Greater Zimbabwe, is a prime tourist destination. “It is pristine. It has beautiful wide beaches, and some of the oldest and diverse flora and fauna. We have majestic scenery from the ancient Sahara Desert to the savannah grasslands of the Masaai Mara and the southern point where the Indian and Atlantic oceans meet. I am proud to say as Africans that we have world class national parks at the forefront of conservation of rare and endangered species.”
The president said that responsible tourism is increasingly important to the modern traveller. “There is a growing need for sustainable development, to grow and transform our economies while reducing the impact on the environment.”
He also said the tourism industry should embrace the technologies that are prevalent in the current Fourth Industrial Revolution. “Our tourism offerings should be well aligned with technology. The industry must embrace this technology and be ready for the brave new world that is coming.
“Modern tourists are very discerning because they are spoilt for choice when it comes to choosing destinations. We live in the age of AirBnB and TripAdvisor. All these new technologies are opening up new opportunities and competition.”
Tourism Minister, Derek Hanekom said the tourism industry is the most resilient industry as it continues to grow amidst financial turbulence.
Tourism currently employs 1.5-million people in South Africa with a growth rate of 7% in Africa in 2018. “Yet we have still not reached our full potential,” said Hanekom.
He added that South Africa’s tourism industry strives to being everyone together. “We have chosen to unite the people of this country in all our magnificent diversity. We have chosen the story of inclusivity.”
The President responded to Minister Hanekom’s cal to relook at South Africa’s Visa regulations as to boost tourism into the country. Ramaphosa said to boost tourism a number of challenges need to be address, of which the first is to reduce red tape. “Streamlining our visa regime is a priority and resolving the visa issues is a commitment I have given to the Nation.”
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Altaaf Kazi at South African Tourism
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