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GGood evening Ladies and Gentlemen,
Last year this time, we met here shortly after our President, Cyril Ramaphosa, delivered his inaugural State of the Nation address, announcing government’s commitment to bolstering efforts to growing tourism in South Africa.
This year, we are even more encouraged as once again, during his second State of the Nation Address, President Ramaphosa, cemented government’s continued commitment to the sector.
The President also challenged the South African tourism sector to increase the number of tourist’s arrivals to our country from just over 10 million in 2018 to 21 million by 2030.
While this is a big challenge, for me personally, this is exciting because this illustrates that our industry has immense support from the highest office in our land and that this office has a lot of confidence in ALL of us gathered here today.
As we all gear up to market our unique country at ITB in the next coming few days, we should be encouraged by this commitment and by the opportunity to contribute to growing our country’s economy through tourism.
We have each played an integral part in ensuing that 10.5 million international tourist came to South Africa in 2018. This is a growth of 1.8% when compared to 2017.
Whilst we can certainly improve on these numbers as we collectively strive to reach the president’s challenge of 21 million tourists by 2030, we should all remain positive in our efforts as we promote our tourism assets to our global target market.
Last year was a tough year for all of us marketing South Africa in the Europe region. The Day ZERO messaging had a negative impact on Europe arrivals for the first six months of 2018. But, we fought back and found new ways of responsible tourism. South Africa has become a benchmark for how world-class cities respond to future climate threats associated with water, it is our responsibility to share our learnings and encourage others around the world to help adapt to this New Normal.
As “Team South Africa”, we should continue to use our collective passion to position and sell our country as the best tourism destination in the world.
This year we also celebrate 25 years of our democracy. We know that the tourism landscape has evolved since the dawn of our democracy. We are working hard to position our country not only as a SAFE, affordable, value-for-money destination for the international traveller, but also as one that offers a unique and distinctive value proposition: a number of breath-taking experiences in close proximity, from nature and safaris to adventure and culture, from vibey urban living to authentic township and rural encounters, surrounded by warm and welcoming people.
Over the years we have worked hard to introduce new players who add diversity, uniqueness and of course who show the world the varied, adventurous, culturally diverse country that South Africa is and we believe our efforts are certainly being realised. We are very proud to say that at this year’s ITB we are joined by ten SMEs who are here as part of our government’s Tourism Incentive Programme.
Thank you for working hard to understand not only the Central Europe consumer but all our travelers that come from various part of Europe and other parts of the world. Thank you for your continued partnership with us at South Africa Tourism. WE can NEVER do it alone! Tourism is a people business.
I wish you a productive show!