Programme Director,Minister of Tourism, Mr Marthinus Van Schalkwyk,
Chairperson of the Tourism Portfolio Committee, Mr Gumede,Chairperson of the Select Committee, Mr GamedeSA Tourism Board Chairperson, Mr Frank KilbournCEO of Waterfront, David GreenEsteemed Captains of the Tourism Industry,Senior officials,Ladies and gentlemen of the media.
I stand here before you today in the V & A Waterfront, the gateway to Robben Island, only two days before our Freedom Day celebrations and just a year before the marking of 20 years of our freedom and democracy.
We are very proud that a country that was once a pariah state is now attracting more international visitors each year.
In 1993, South Africa received a mere 3.4 million foreign visitors. By 2012, the figure had grown by 300 percent to 13.5 million visitors, of which 9.2 million were tourists.
The magnificent growth in tourism figures is a positive outcome of our transition to a democratic dispensation. The fruits of our freedom have indeed come in many forms.
These results also demonstrate the effectiveness of our economic diplomacy underpinned by a sound foreign policy.
This positive trend is continuing due to our systematic investment in policy and strategy development as well as effective implementation.
In 2009 we decided to create a stand-alone National Department of Tourism as we knew the potential of tourism as a job creator and also as a sector that would open our beautiful country to the world.
Tourism was subsequently identified as one of the key sectors envisaged in our New Growth Path economic strategy as one of six job drivers. The others are mining, manufacturing, the green economy, infrastructure development and agriculture.
Tourism also has the potential to provide more youth business and employment opportunities.