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Keynote address by Deputy Minister Ms Elizabeth Thabethe at the NTCE Business Networking Session at Durban ICC
Keynote address by Deputy Minister Ms Elizabeth Thabethe at the NTCE Business Networking Session at Durban ICC
​Ladies and Gentlemen, 

It is a privilege and honour to address representatives from the tourism businesses, educational institutions, municipalities and partners today, about the National Tourism Career Expo, most commonly known as the NTCE, taking place in Bloemfontein from 29 September to 10 October. This event as you all know plays a critical role in informing our youth about opportunities in the tourism sector. 

Today’s networking session is aimed at encouraging you to join us at the NTCE 2017 so that we can attract the most creative, innovative youth into tourism. To attract talented young people, we need to educate them about available career opportunities such as tourist guiding, Sommelier to Hotel Management.  

Colleagues, distinguished guests

The most demanding target for our country is to create 11 million jobs and reduce poverty by 2030. We can contribute towards the National Development Plan vision by creating meaningful and sustainable opportunities for our young udults throughout the tourism value chain.

Tourism requires people with appropriate skills and we need to empower them so that they do not find themselves in tourism by default but through informed choices which through to available opportunities and careers. Our youth need to understand that tourism is a career of choice with numerous opportunities in locally and internationally. 

According to Statistics SA 2016 report, tourism’s direct contribution to the GDP increased from R114.4 million in 2014 to R119m in 2015, which is a 3% increase. The tourism sector recorded the highest number of people employed in 2015 as compared to the previous year. 711 746 were employed in 2015 whilst 679 560 were employed in 2014. 

Programme Director,

One of the five pillars of the New National Tourism Sector Strategy gazetted on 5 May 2017 is Visitor Experiences, which encompasses the development of excellent tourism skills and service levels to deliver the best possible experiences. 

The Tourism Human Resource Development Strategy which has been finalised recently lays the foundation to advance the industry through an appropriately skilled workforce. Therefore this career expo is one of the vehicles that will assist in realising this objective. 

Our partners, CATHSSETA and the Free State Department of Economic, Small Business, Environmental Affairs & Tourism share this vision and have put their weight behind the programme to create a world-class experience for our youth.  The benefit distinguished guests, is not only for the youth but industry as employers, when tourism related career are made as an informed choice, you end up with world-class teams.

What do I mean by this!

Youth that is informed will become an asset to the industry as they bring new exciting and creative ideas that improve the competitiveness of the sector and destination.  The innovation brought to the sector as a result of the youth being exposed will create more authentic experiences.

The various interactive platforms that translate this objective into reality include the industry speakers’ platform where engagement with young people takes place on what the industry is all about and has got on offer. The exhibition platforms and other youth engagements with industry actual serve this purpose. That is precisely the reason why industry stakeholders are so important to be part of this process in that young people get the necessary exposure on who and what is this industry made up of. In that way they are enabled to make informed decisions to continue studying tourism as well as committing themselves to a profession in the industry. 

Their commitment to serve in the industry does not happen by default as it happened with most people in this room and elsewhere in the industry. It must be by design that a young person decides to take tourism as a  career and profession because of exposure to industry and the opportunities that exist. That will ensure that we attract the right people for the right job at the right time. This will then enhance our service excellence from a position of understanding, positive attitude informed by the urge and passion to work in this industry. In a nutshell the NTCE actually saves young people from making uninformed career choices and lend themselves in the industry unprepared. It presents them with exciting opportunities that exist and they therefore get spoilt for choice. 

Secondly for the industry, by that we refer to all product owners, captains and value chain participants. The NTCE offers the industry an opportunity to ‘sell’ themselves to the young especially in the face of unfavourable perceptions that young people have about this industry.  Industry stakeholders sell themselves in terms of what their businesses are all about and offer as well their overall contribution in the industry and the economy individually or collectively. In that way, they present a positive picture to the young that negates the negative perceptions they harbour and instead presents them with a host of exciting and real career and professional opportunities that exist. 

This is done with the background understanding that young people are not only a source for future labour but they are potential entrepreneurs and tourists in their own right. The tourist element in this regard also plays its part even with the current situation, in that if a young person is sold on a tourism product and goes back home with a positive perspective about the product, the parents will definitely know about it to an extent of even being convinced to buy and consume the services of the industry products. 

So, inadvertently there is also a commercial value in selling tourism products to young people as the latter benefit is surely derived through direct product marketing. You may not be clinching deals at the NTCE as expected in a platform like the Indaba, but depending on how best you sell your product to the young, the potential exists for the industry stakeholders to benefit commercially. We will probably find an appropriate marketing concept to sell this aspect of the NTCE benefit to industry. It is therefore very important for the industry stakeholders to position and prepare themselves timeously for the NTCE 2017 so as to come in numbers, exhibit and   engage learners at this year’s event. 

Thirdly for government, by this we refer to all three spheres of government and their related public entities. Their role at the NTCE is to present programmes arranged or organised from a demand and supply perspective that are in place to benefit young people from an educational, career and professional perspective. They would present these through exhibitions and presentations at the various relevant platforms in place at the NTCE. The government sector includes the education and training institutions that are preparing young people as future tourism professionals and entrepreneurs. They therefore need to engage with industry stakeholders at the NTCE to establish latest trends in terms of skills needs or gaps.  They need to observe how their students interact with the learning experience and use it to enhance the classroom experience.

The NTCE usually presents a platform in this regard that provides the supply side (education and training institutions) and the demand side (industry player) with an opportunity to engage on how they can reach equilibrium on demand and supply of skills. Educators Seminars also fall in this category and other platforms that are policy and regulation related. The NTCE therefore presents a captured audience for government to engage its stakeholders on relevant tourism growth and development matters. 


This is the third and final year that Free State will be hosting the NTCE and a bidding process will be open to other provinces to express interest to host the event for another three years. One of the key platforms at the NTCE is the Young Business Zone which encourages young people to present tourism business ideas that can see them realise their dreams of becoming entrepreneurs.  

If we look back at the benefits of the 2016 careers expo, the event has enhanced the Free State’s capacity to host major events. The NTCE’s 90% localised procurement principle has also benefited the local SMMEs as they had to provide catering, accommodation, transport and other relevant services. We are also confident that we have showcased tourism as a career and employer of choice and indeed, this platform will create a pool of future tourism practitioners. 

The department together with CATHSSETA and the host province would appreciate if stakeholders in the tourism value chain can participate at the expo, offer motivational talks to the learners and expose them to real career and professional opportunities and pledge internships. 

The service provider contracted to the event will contact you about participation at the NTCE.  It is therefore important for the industry to prepare timeously for the NTCE 2017 to have an effective engagement with learners.

Let us all unite and commit to join hands in realising the objectives of the NDP and showcase tourism’s potential as a national growth driver of the economy. 

I thank you