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Putting the fun back into tourism

Written by Samona Murugan

Tourism and Heritage Month

September marks Tourism Month in South Africa, and this year the Department of Tourism invites South Africans to become a nation of fun- seekers.

In support of this year’s World Tourism Day theme ‘Tourism and Water - Protecting our common future’, the department has called on South Africans to learn about water, travel, and the tourism industry at large, under the South African theme, ‘Water is fun’.

In line with Tourism Month, the department together with South African Tourism has launched a new domestic tourism campaign called ‘Nothing’s More Fun than a Sho’t Left.’ It encourages more South Africans to go on holiday and explore their country, even for a night or two. It also urges locals to make great memories, spend quality time with loved ones, and to experience new places, new people and new things.

At the official launch of Tourism Month at Amazingwe Lodge in the North West recently, Tourism Minister Marthinus Van Schalkwyk, said excellent tourist arrivals in 2012 had made South Africa an exceptional global destination, and had fast tracked the country to reach its target of becoming one of the 20 top destinations in the world by 2020.

In the past year alone, almost 9.1 million international tourists visited our shores, and 12.5 million South Africans took 25.4 million trips and spent an average of four nights away from home per trip. Domestic Tourism in 2012 also contributed more than R100 million to the country’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP).

Minister Van Schalkwyk said Tourism Month 2013 would herald a new era for domestic tour- ism in South Africa. “It’s an era in which the whole nation will get out there and experience the fun and sheer wonder of a South African holiday.”

Conserving our water

The biggest tourist attraction for the country is our unique and vast land and water resources. The Department of Tourism says our environment and climate is the major draw card for people visiting the country. However, with tourism booming, the country’s water shortage will directly influence and change the tourism market.

This has prompted the Department of Water Affairs to spread awareness about water conservation, especially in the North West, which is the driest province in our water scarce country.

In an attempt to remedy the shortage in the province, Government has also implemented the first phase of the R1.2 billion Pilanesberg water scheme. The project developed in partnership with the mines will provide a further 100 mega litres of water per day for the local municipalities and mines. It will also create 700 direct jobs and 6 000 indirect jobs. The province has also been selected as the destination of choice this month, with affordable and exciting holiday packages available.

Creating tourism jobs

Aside from increasing domestic travel and water conservation, attracting youngsters towards the tourism and hospitality industry is also one of the month’s major priorities. To showcase all the industry has to offer, the department will host the 2013 National Tourism Careers Expo (NTCE) under the theme ‘Explore your World of Tourism’ in East London from 19 to 21 September. The expo's expected to attract more than 10 000 learner’s, tourism students, graduates and educators from across the country, will showcase career opportunities in tourism, especially for women and youth. The expo also aims to drive South Africa’s National Tourism Sector Strategy’s goal of creating 225 000 tourism jobs by 2020, and ensure that there are sufficient numbers of skilled people to fill these positions.

“We want people in tourism to be proud of being in the sector, and events like the National Tourism Careers Expo (NTCE) are a wonderful showcase of the wide possibilities available to learners,” says Tourism Deputy Minister Tokozile Xasa.

Why is the expo important?

The expo, creates a platform for interaction and knowledge. “We, as a department, are thrilled to be part of this extremely successful event and hope that each and every learner, unemployed youth and educator who attends takes the opportunity to make it happen,” says Deputy Minister Xasa.

So hit the road, take advantage of great specials on offer and get involved in the fun this Tourism Month.

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