TOURISM MONTH celebrations are earmarked to raise awareness of the importance of tourism to communities and also champion the Sho’t Left campaign that seeks to encourage locals to visit their own.
The pomp ceremonial launch took place in Drakensberg, KwaZulu-Natal- considered to be one of the draw cards in terms of huge volume of visitors, along Gauteng and Cape Town, which means the focus would be on remaining less visited provinces.
In trying to establish what led to the review of such decision, chief communication director and spokesperson for tourism department Blessing Manale indicated that each year, the department of Tourism chooses a province where the national celebration will take place and that the department along with all provinces undertook a decision that the hosting of World Tourism Day celebration will only be done in the less visited provinces.
At the time this decision was made meant that Gauteng, KwaZulu Natal and Western Cape did not form part of the rotation, he said.
“Subsequently this decision was reviewed given the fact that within these three provinces there are less visited areas that require profiling.
As such, KZN was offered by the Department of Tourism an opportunity to host the 2019 World Tourism Day celebration,” he responded.
This years’ theme is “Tourism and Jobs, a Better Future for All” and the minister of Tourism Mmamoloko Kubayi-Ngubane indicated job creation is of utmost priority and tourism can be the catalyst to make it happen.
She highlighted the importance of Tourism Month as a means to both South Africans and visitors from outside the country’s boarders to travel and experience our country’s diverse offerings.
In March this year, a World Travel & Tourism Council (WTTC) report stated that South Africa has the largest tourism economy in Africa having indirectly contributed 1.5 million jobs (9.2% of South Africa’s employment) and R425.8-billion in 2018.
It also indicated that the sector accounts for 8.6% of the country’s GDP.
“To this end, the fundamental to achieving the 21 million target is to firstly continue to work closely with the Department of Home Affairs on visa facilitation to increase access to our country by our tourists,” Secondly, is to work closely with the Minister of Police and our stakeholders in our sector to address the concerns of safety,” says Kubayi-Ngubane.
Recently SA announced visa waivers for four countries in a bid to boost tourism amid an economic crisis and falling visitor numbers -namely Qatar, Saudi Arabia, United Arab Emirates and New Zealand.
The country has already waived the visa requirement for 82 of the 193 countries who are UN members.
Tourism Month falls in line with South Africa’s vision to ignite inclusive economic growth, sustainable job creation and transformation which are all critical for the industry.
World Tourism Day is commemorated on 27 September each year through appropriate events on themes selected by the General Assembly, on the recommendation of UNWTO’s Executive Council.
“In the recent years, domestic tourism statistics have shown a positive improvement in Limpopo Province, pushing its ranks upwards and making it one of the most preferred tourism destinations.
It was the department’s Repositioning Tourism Month document that proposed that the rotation should include all provinces.
The new approach thus afford all provinces a chance to host the WTD, at a less visited destination which DT will endorse. This is to create awareness on the domestic tourism destinations in all provinces and the objective being to even out the geographic spread of tourists in every province,” Manale.
Since KZN is the host for this year’s WTD expect rotational system in all other provinces in the future.
Meanwhile, other provinces have begun with their provincial Tourism celebrations to unearth ‘hidden gems’ available at their doorstep.
Image (Tourism Min Mamoloko Kubayi- Ngubane upbeat on tourism trajectory growth).