Speaking at the 2017 Local Government Tourism Conference underway at the Emperors Palace in Kempton Park, Minister Xasa said tourism growth means more opportunities for small businesses, for entrepreneurs and innovators, and for people from local communities to become actively involved in the wonderful world of tourism.
“We are not after short-sighted growth that is haphazard and aimless, we want sustainable growth that creates more opportunities for black people, especially people in rural areas, and for women, the youth and people living with disabilities,” she said on Monday.
Minister Xasa said growth in tourism must lead to economic and social transformation for the country.
“All of us here today have one thing in common: we are all partners in tourism development, which makes it essential that we are all partners in planning for tourism growth and development.
“We are at a very special juncture in the development of tourism in South Africa, a time when collaboration, partnerships and planning together is absolutely essential if we are to succeed in extracting the full value and benefits of tourism for all our people,” she said.
She said tourism is a half-exposed treasure chest. “The lid is half-opened and not many of our people can get to the jewels. If we all work together, we can prise that lid open, so that the benefits of tourism, and the natural and cultural heritage of our country, can be shared by all the people in our country,” the Minister said.
Held under the theme: Tourism Planning is Everybody’s Business, the conference is expected to provide a platform for public and private sector stakeholders to deliberate on how integrated tourism planning can lead to a sustainable and inclusive sector that creates employment opportunities, and contributes to poverty alleviation as espoused in the National Development Plan (NDP).
Minister Xasa told the delegates attending the conference that her department has embarked on a process of reviewing the National Tourism Sector Strategy.
“The review has been discussed at various intergovernmental forums, including at cluster levels. It has also been discussed with various private sector stakeholders and individual departments,” she said.
According to the Minister, the next step will be the publication and gazetting of the strategy for public comments.
“The National Department of Tourism is working with our provincial and municipal counterparts to leverage South Africa’s globally competitive natural and cultural advantages,” the Minister said.
Also speaking was Ekurhuleni Mayor Mzwandile Masina who said the municipality was working on stimulating tourism hubs within the municipality.
“We want to ensure that people are not only confined were they are staying, but they must explore other things,” he said.
For Domestic Tourism, Statistics South Africa recently reported that domestic trips declined between 2013 and 2015 with day trips decreasing from 54.4 million in 2013 to 48 million in 2014 and 44 million in 2015.
Government recently allocated an additional amount of R494 million to promote tourism over the next three years.
It is estimated that the Oceans Economy has the potential to contribute R177 billion to the GDP by 2033 compared to the R24 billion in 2010 and create one million jobs compared to the 360 000 in 2010.
The Department of Tourism in partnership with the Department of Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs (COGTA), South African Local Government Association (SALGA) and the City of Ekurhuleni are the hosts of the 2017 Local Government Tourism Conference.
Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs (COGTA) Minister Des Van Rooyen, Ekurhuleni Mayor Mzwandile Masina and representatives from provinces were among the guests who attended the conference.