As the country celebrates Tourism Month, the Minister of Tourism, Derek Hanekom, is encouraging South Africans to tour the country more often.
Delivering his departmental Budget Vote, the Minister said it was important that all South Africans toured and enjoyed the different tourist destinations across the country.
“The child of a mineworker must have the same opportunity as the child of a wealthy businessperson to visit our World Heritage Sites, to go to our national parks and botanical gardens, to attend theatre and concerts, and to visit museums and art galleries,” he explained.
Minister Hanekom added that the tourist destinations in the country belonged to all South Africans. “These sites belong to all of us and instil a shared pride that has the potential to further build our nation.
“They offer us the narrative of a common humanity in South Africa, on the continent, and in the world.”
To boost local tourism, the department will assist South Africa’s domestic marketing campaign with funds to increase the marketing campaigns.
SA Tourism’s “Sho’t Left” marketing campaign for domestic tourists is already delivering results, and will be bolstered in the next financial year by another R100 million in secured ring-fenced investment, according to the Minister.
20 years of tourism
One of the major achievements of the past 20 years is the increase in number of tourists visiting the country.
The number of accommodation establishments has almost tripled, from just 7 721 to almost 20 000, conference venues have doubled, from 1 250 to 2 598. The tourism industry directly employs 617 000 people, or 4,6 per cent of the total workforce in 2012.
The fleet of cars and coaches has more than doubled, whilst the number of airlines flying to South Africa has grown from 21 to 76.
According to Stats SA, in 2012 tourism’s direct contribution to gross domestic product (GDP) was R93 billion, with a staggering annual average real growth rate of 7,3 per cent over the past 20 years, while international tourist arrivals to the country grew to almost 10 million in 2013.