Talking Tourism: Good news from the Tourism Minister

I welcome the content of Minister of Tourism, Marthinus van Schalkwyk’s tourism budget speech, which was released on 20th April 2011. Minister van Schalkwyk, reported on three themes that the South African tourism industry would pursue over the next financial year; new growth, shared growth and green growth.

Growth in tourism is both tangible and necessary and we applaud the Minister’s proactive approach to the task of growing tourism in a way that is sustainable and shared. The continued support of projects such as the Tourism Enterprises Partnership and the Social Responsibility Implementation Programme is important for ensuring meaningful development across several key socio-economic areas.

In summary, Minister Van Schalkwyk’s is driving the growth of tourism around three key areas of responsibility:

New growth
The recently signed (2 March 2011) National Tourism Sector Strategy, commits itself to intelligent planning and policy formulation in order to drive the tourism economy, enhance the visitors experience and ensure sustainability and good governance in the industry.

Projected tourism figures include increasing the number of annual foreign tourist arrivals to South Africa from seven million in 2009 to fifteen million by 2020, the number of annual domestic tourists to South Africa from 14.6 million in 2009 to eighteen million in 2020, and creating 225 000 new jobs by 2020. Government aims to do this by tapping into new growth markets unlocked by the 2010 FIFA World Cup™, as well as by maintaining the current traditional source markets.

Shared growth
Minister van Schalkwyk continued to say that the tourism sector is not only a multi-faceted industry that contributes to economic growth but also a labour intensive industry with a significant capacity for creating jobs, specifically in rural areas amongst women and the youth. There is also a great capacity for entrepreneurs and small, medium and micro enterprises (SMMEs).

Green Growth
The Budget Vote Speech stated that the entire tourism value chain would have to contribute to South Africa’s Copenhagen commitments on climate change. The sector must alleviate climate change by reducing its growing carbon footprint in a measurable, reportable and verifiable manner. Further to this we need to change the way the tourism sector operates in a carbon constrained world, carbon offsetting alone is not enough. Minister for Tourism, Martinus van Schalkwyk said a green revolution in the tourism sector could be a catalyst for green growth in the broader economy and that the tourism industry would be publishing a National Minimum Standard for Responsible Tourism in the current financial year, where standards would be created to deal with green and responsible tourism including biodiversity conservation, energy consumption and water use, proper waste management and mitigating greenhouse gas emissions. It is hoped that these measures will assist in the control of greenwashing and give proper due to green tourism leadership.

We at Cape Town Tourism have aligned our strategy with these themes for some time now. It is heartening to now feel the support and unity of a national direction for tourism growth and the on-going role it has to play in driving employment. The City of Cape Town has been a pioneer in responsible tourism for many years and we feel sure that the self-regulation and willingness of tourism players to engage in sustainable, responsible growth can now be actualised with the backing of legislation and high level commitment. We welcome the chance to engage with other tourism entities in upholding the pillars of a future-fit destination.”

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