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“Whatever you’re looking for, it’s here,” Tourism Minister Marthinus van Schalkwyk said at the launch of Tourism Month at the Getaway Show at Joburg’s Coca Cola Dome on Friday.
Van Schalkwyk used the catchphrase of SA Tourism’s Vaya Mzanzi domestic tourism marketing campaign to launch Tourism Month and called on South Africans to explore their country and sell it to the world.
“Domestic tourists are the lifeblood of SA’s tourism industry, which is regarded as a major driver of the country’s economic growth. This tourist grouping contributed R20.2 billion to the national economy in 2011.
“South Africans must become tourists in their own country. They must enjoy what attracts millions of foreign tourists each year… A beautiful destination, rich in culture and heritage, unsurpassed in its warm, friendly and welcoming way of life.
“When domestic tourism grows, we create a nation of tourism ambassadors… Well-travelled locals can confidently recommend to foreign tourists and fellow South Africans the best places to visit in SA.”
The minister urged the SA tourism industry to value domestic tourists as much as they valued foreign visitors.
“It is critical for the tourism sector to... hone its products and tourism offerings for the domestic market.”
He said in 2011 domestic tourism accounted for 76 percent of total tourism volumes in the country. Almost 5.5 million domestic trips were taken in the first quarter of 2012, which contributed R5.2bn to the economy. This was more than R600m, or 13 percent more than last year.
SA Tourism CEO Thulani Nzima said Tourism Month 2012 would see the organisation and other partners focus on encouraging South Africans to travel locally. He said SA Tourism had nearly 2.5 million special discount offers this month for South Africans to take advantage of.
* The UN World Travel Organisation has adopted “Tourism and Sustainable Energy” as its theme for World Tourism Day on September 27. The Eastern Cape is host province for World Tourism Day celebrations.