Tourism is vital for elevating South African economy

Published on : Saturday, September 2, 2017

South AfricanSA witnessed 1.2 billion international arrivals in 2016. However, the head of South African Tourism, Sisa Ntshona said, “Those figures can either scare you, or excite you. Scare you in that you think, that’s so bad, or excite you in that there are so many opportunities. To a large extent, we’re still undiscovered.”

 
Ntshona was one of the speakers on the opening day of the Tourism Hotel Investment and Networking Conference, THINC Africa, hosted by global hotel investment consultancy, HVS, in Cape Town.

 
Tim Smith, managing partner of HVS in South Africa said, “The African saying goes, it takes a village to raise a child. We could say it takes the tourism industry to raise the economy. Seriously, though, the opportunity offered by South Africa to domestic and international tourists is extraordinary. We just need to work together as an industry, with government’s assistance, to realise the opportunity for all.”

 
Ntshona said, “South Africa’s National Development Plan reckons tourism is a sector that can help take us out of this rut. South Africa is in a technical recession with high unemployment, particularly among youth. While the world battles with inclusive growth for minorities, South Africa is different; we’re trying to make the economy inclusive to the majority.”

 
He added that while South Africa is looking for growth, it is also looking for distributive growth that is inclusive of the majority of its citizens for reducing the Gini coefficient, which is one of the highest in the world.

 
Ntshona said that it requires growing international and domestic tourism, pointing out that when South Africa suffered a decline in tourism in 2014/2015, and international bookings were cancelled following the Ebola outbreak in West Africa, domestic tourism failed to step into the breach.

 
SA Tourism has developed a “five in five” strategy, where it seeks to grow tourism numbers by five million in five years; four million would be international travellers, and one million domestic.

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