Tourism is poised to play a greater role than ever before, both on the global stage and in the lives of South Africans. However, tourism is about much more than the policies, statistics and objectives that we often talk about. It is about people.
Being a labour-intensive sector with a supply chain that cascades deep into our national economy and across all communities, tourism is positioned as a priority sector in Government’s planning and policy frameworks.
The National Department of Tourism is mandated to create conditions for the sustainable growth and development of tourism in South Africa. The Tourism Act makes provision for the promotion of tourism to and in the Republic and for regulation and rationalisation of the tourism sector, including measures aimed at the enhancement and maintenance of the standards of facilities and services utilised by tourists; and the co-ordination and rationalisation of the activities of those who are active in the tourism sector.
In 2011, the tourism sector worldwide supported 258 million direct, indirect and induced employment opportunities, just under 9% of the global workforce. Of these, 100 million were direct jobs, which means that every single employment opportunity in the direct tourism economy supports another 1,6 indirect jobs. 

During the 2008/9 global economic downturn, tourism also played a critical anti-cyclical role in support of our national economy, and contributed significantly to our gross domestic product, foreign exchange earnings and poverty reduction. In South Africa, as in the rest of the world, tourism remains one of the fastest-growing economic sectors, with huge potential for future job creation and social inclusion, in particular with regard to women and young people.
The tourism sector’s success story of the past decade can easily lead to complacency. However, we understand that markets are continuously shifting and consumer preferences evolving. That is why we rely heavily on the best available market research and information about emerging demand patterns. The new opportunities on our continent and in emerging markets are well understood, as is the need to consolidate and work even harder for every inch of market share in our traditional markets. 
The backbone of any tourism industry is its domestic market. With domestic tourism contributing over 70% of our country’s tourism volume as well as sustaining and creating much-needed jobs, building the domestic tourism market is a priority. Domestic tourism growth will not only assist us to hedge against global economic instability, but we believe there are huge socio-economic and experiential benefits to be unlocked for domestic tourists and hosting communities alike. We will work with the tourism industry to encourage our fellow South Africans to enjoy the magnificent variety and authenticity that our destination has to offer.
At the same time, we understand the importance of diversifying and developing the supply side, working closely with our private-sector partners. On the one hand, we should grow tourism receipts by increasing tourist arrivals, and, on the other, we should work harder than ever to increase expenditure per visitor through innovative product development, excellent service and focused destination marketing.
Tourism will continue to address issues raised by the President in his State of the Nation addresses in 2011 and 2012 respectively. To ensure the achievement of the sector’s targets, the Department will work harder than ever to implement the National Tourism Sector Strategy (NTSS).  This, however, is not an end in itself. What is important is to translate increasing arrivals into broader economic benefits for our people. Working with other government institutions and relevant stakeholders, we will also play a more active role in addressing travel barriers, including visa processing, airlift, enabling infrastructure and the development of cultural industries. A critical area for sustainable growth and global competitiveness of the sector is the development and improvement of public and private tourism infrastructure. 
Government is committed to working towards ensuring that tourism becomes rooted at local government levels to promote ownership by local communities, with a particular emphasis on community development and job creation. Through the NTSS we seek to provide for capacity development at local government level. The department will work with provinces and municipalities to ensure integration of tourism priorities in the provincial growth and development strategies (PGDS) and Integrated development Plans (IDPs). The department also has a programme to support provincial and local government tourism growth and development.
In recognition of the importance of coordination in a value chain that relies on a wide range of role players, the Department has established enhanced working relationships with various partners. By working together, our efforts will support the realisation of the New Growth Path and NTSS targets.
South Africa’s natural environment and cultural diversity are among its greatest resources. Therefore, the tourism industry will be actively involved in conserving and protecting these sources of competitive advantage. To be able to respond to climate change and decarbonise our value chain, we will also forge much stronger cross-industry and public-private partnerships.  By doing so, the tourism sector will help to facilitate shared green growth in the wider economy.