“We want to develop Africa as a source market for business and leisure,” South African deputy minister of Tourism Tokozile Xasa said at the opening of the third annual World Travel Market Africa Exhibition in Cape Town on Wednesday.
Speaking at the Cape Town International Convention Centre, Xasa said that the trade show would play an important role in growing the tourism sector in South Africa and throughout the African continent.
She said: “As the Department of Tourism in South Africa, we are delighted to participate in platforms that elevate the African tourism growth story; because we understand that there is no single story about this wonderful continent and World Travel Market Africa is one such platform, as a business-to-business exhibition for the inbound and outbound African travel and tourism markets. “There is no doubt that tourism changes lives and communities, whilst adding a deep cultural understanding and appreciation for those enjoying the experience.
:South Africa, and indeed Africa as a whole, has been enjoying the growth of this magnificent sector,” she said. “This trade show, and all the other platforms of this nature, provides the kind of access to markets that is essential for us to continue growing.”
She noted that South Africa had experienced a 6.8 percent (or 645 463) decline in the number of international tourists visiting the country in 2015.
She said this decline could be attributed to the “aftermath of Ebola and the unintended consequences of changes to immigration regulations in the first two quarters of 2015”.
She further noted that according to the 2015 Travel and Tourism Competitiveness Report of the World Economic Forum, South Africa ranked as the lead destination in its region and ranked 48th globally.
This, she said, was driven by the country’s “rich natural and cultural resources and a positive business environment”.
“A gradual recovery is expected from most international markets in 2016,” she added. Xasa spoke about the need for responsible tourism as “tourism is recognised as one of the main drivers of the country’s economy and employment”.
She said according to a Statistics South Africa report, it was estimated that as at the end of 2014, the industry supported about 680 817 direct jobs, or 4.5 percent of total employment, from a baseline of 553 990 in 2009.
She said technology was a huge focus at the exhibition and the issues of fair trade, destination marketing, energy-efficient green buildings and responsible tourism were important elements to consider in the industry.