Dear colleagues in tourism
I am deeply honoured to be here today where we say thank you and honour you for your invaluable contribution to this amazing programme.
It’s wonderful to be here in your beautiful area. It has the fitting name of Eden. Let me take this opportunity to congratulate the District Municipality after being awarded for the third consecutive year, as the overall winner in the Greenest District Municipalities Competition, walking away with R130 000. One of its local municipalities, namely Hessequa Municipality, topped the B-municipality category. Amazing things are happening here!!
As you know, over the past 20 years, tourism has experienced continued and steady growth in South Africa and has undergone such a diversification in our country to become one of the fastest growing economic sectors. Modern tourism’s success depends on, and is closely linked to skills development. In fact, they share a symbiotic relationship. These dynamics have turned tourism into a key driver for socio-economic progress. It has subsequently been identified as one of the economic pillars.
The aim of the Department of Tourism and government is to safeguard the long-term prosperity of the tourism industry through sustainable development, giving special attention to training human resources in specifically tourism-orientated skills, which will ensure the professionalism of service performance. Tourism businesses are no longer competing purely against each other, but against other economic sectors. Supply will have to adapt to the needs of the consumer, and consolidate a competitive advantage.
I am here to listen to your challenges and to update you on various tourism issues.
Challenges the youth face in the Eden District focusing mainly on the tourism industry:
I believe one of the challenges is that, overall Eden District has the highest levels of youth unemployment amongst the districts within the Province and the youth are over-represented among the unemployed perhaps due to their lack of experience. Literacy rates in the Eden District are relatively high compared to the other districts within the Western Cape. There is, however, a trend towards mechanisation and employing skilled and highly skilled labour. This indicates that going forward, further skills development as well as low skilled labour intensive initiatives will be necessary to stimulate employment in the region.
Although tourism is the world’s largest generator of jobs which generate immediate employment opportunities as it grows. The youth of the Eden District, remain to struggle with the following challenges to fully benefit from the tourism industry.
I am pleased to see Eden District Municipality working on various projects in attempt to address these challenges.
I now wish to give you a brief update on what we as a department are doing to grow tourism.
The National Rural Tourism Strategy advocates for a developmental approach to the packaging of rural tourism products and opportunities in South Africa. This approach is also meant to prioritise spatial nodes that have the potential to stimulate growth of the rural tourism industry in South Africa.
Heritage and Cultural Tourism
The Department of Tourism has established the National Heritage and Cultural Tourism Strategy which primarily aims to integrate the issues of heritage resources into the ambit of tourism development for sustainable management and economic empowerment. Heritage and Cultural Tourism are rapidly and competitively emerging niche products within the domestic and international markets. Trends illustrate that heritage and cultural tourism products provide a unique opportunity for the participation of both tourists and local communities in tourism activities and initiatives (UNWTO 2014)
Social Tourism is an initiative of the Department of Tourism to address the gaps identified in the Domestic Tourism Growth Strategy, which amongst others are seasonality and uneven geographic spread. Through this initiative, the department hopes to encourage a culture of travel for leisure amongst South Africans. The targeted groups for social tourism are: the youth, the elderly, people living with disabilities, people with modest income and social/ stokvels groups. The latter (stokvels) is targeted in particular as they have disposable income and it is rarely used for leisure travel purposes. We have set the ball rolling; however, we cannot do it on our own. We need the assistance of the entire tourism sector, South African Tourism to the provincial marketing authorities and agencies, associations, municipalities, accommodation establishments, transport companies, tour operators and attractions to come on board.
Tourism Incentive Programme (TIP)
The TIP is a new initiative that was launched by Minister Hanekom in March this year. The overarching policy rationale for introduction of the TIP is rooted in the National Development Plan (NDP) and the New Growth Path (NGP) that recognises tourism as a labour intensive and tradable service sector and a catalyst to support ‘faster and more inclusive economic growth’ as one of the six priorities underpinning South Africa’s 2030 vision. The TIP therefore serves as a tool to stimulate the growth, development and transformation of the South African Tourism sector. It comprises of the following:
One of the most current issues in the industry is the visa regulations. I would like to give you feedback on that.
National Department of Tourism Statement on the Review of Immigration Regulations
The Department of Tourism welcomes the recent Cabinet announcement on immigration regulations and is working with the Department of Home Affairs and tourism stakeholders in implementing the changes. The Cabinet announcement follows recommendations made by the Inter-Ministerial Committee established by President Jacob Zuma to find a better balance between South Africa’s security and economic development needs. The recommendations will be implemented in a phased approach, and will make it easier for tourists to travel to South Africa without compromising national security or the safety of children.
I wish to thank you for your support by absorbing these graduates into the industry and trust that we will grow the absorption rate even more. Without your support, today would not be possible. Let us continue to enjoy a mutually beneficial relationship as we work together to position South Africa as a destination of choice.
I thank you