Published on : Tuesday, September 29, 2020
South Africa joined the rest of the world to celebrate the World Tourism Day with different festivities at Maropeng’s Cradle of Humankind in the western corridor of the Gauteng Province. World Tourism Day is an initiative undertaken by the UNWTO and is celebrated every year on September 27, to highlight the sector’s contribution to the socio–economic development of nations, and the advancement of the global Sustainable Development Goals (SDG).
The theme for this year was ‘Rural Development and Tourism,’ that highlighted the significant role the domestic tourism market will play in reigniting the travel and tourism sector, especially in spearheading tourism in lesser-visited rural communities in all nine provinces. South African Tourism Minister Mmamoloko Kubayi-Ngubane said in her statement that the celebration is a testament that the tourism industry is able to host an event in a safe manner under the current COVID-19 pandemic.
The tourism industry is one of the largest economic sectors in the world that creates jobs, drives exports and generates prosperous local economies. However, the COVID-19 outbreak largely disrupted the global travel and tourism industry. The UNWTO’s May 2020 extended scenarios on tourism growth has predicted that the market will rebound in mid-2021 based on assumptions of a reversal in the evolution of the COVID-19 Pandemic. Minister Kubayi-Ngubane has mentioned that she is hopeful that South Africa’s domestic market would have gained strides in recovery, providing an amicable environment for inclusive and sustainable growth.
She urged South Africans to travel and explore their country responsibly, as the nation navigates towards a path to recovery, and gradually reopen borders to safely welcome international tourists. She shared that South Africa’s authentic heritage and cultural experiences have been a draw card for international visitors for many years and said that though a large number of employment opportunities have been driven by international tourist arrivals in the past, authorities also believed that the existing and forthcoming jobs will be sustained by the renewed strength of the domestic tourism markets.
She stated that as South Africa work towards rebuilding its travel and tourism sector, it will also pursue increased marketing efforts to encourage citizens to explore the country so that sustainable local economies can be created. She also urged the people of the nation to explore their country, to embrace their heritage and help the country re-build its local economies to usher in the benefits that was envisioned when the nation fought for democracy.