Home Affairs Minister Aaron Motsoaledi this month announced visa waivers for four countries in a bid to boost tourism and arrest falling visitor numbers. File Photo: IOL
JOHANNESBURG – South African Tourism and the Tourism Business Council of South Africa (TBCSA) have ramped-up the marketing of the country's prime attractions with a 10-day trip across the world to woo visitors.

The two organisations, who visited Switzerland this week, said the global roadshow was meant to engage with key travel and trade stakeholders.

SA Tourism and TBCSA said they had identified Austria, Germany and Switzerland as key markets in central Europe. They said they would also be visiting the UK, US, China, India, Australia and Nigeria as part of a concerted effort to bring more tourists to South Africa.

SA Tourism acting chief executive Sthembiso Dlamini said key partners and stakeholders had raised concerns with some barriers associated with travelling to South Africa.

“By engaging face to face, we are showing our commitment and our willingness to assist our stakeholders to position South Africa as an ideal holiday and business destination,” Dlamini said.

“Europe had exceptional growth over the three-year period between 2016 up until the start of the water crisis in Cape Town and while we have not seen the growth we would've loved from this market since then, we need to understand what other reasons are there for this so we can work closely with our partners in Europe to ensure growth from this market.”

Tourism was flagged by President Cyril Ramaphosa in his State of the Nation address as one of the sectors that could absorb more people into employment.

He said tourism had the potential to more than double international tourist arrivals to 21 million by 2030.

Home Affairs Minister Aaron Motsoaledi this month announced visa waivers for four countries in a bid to boost tourism and arrest falling visitor numbers. The waivers meant that visitors from Qatar, Saudi Arabia, United Arab Emirates and New Zealand would no longer require a visa to visit for either holiday, conferencing or business purposes.

TBCSA chief executive Tshifhiwa Tshivhengwa said the industry needed to work together to achieve 21 million international arrivals by 2030.

“With at least 17 airlines connecting directly from Europe to South Africa, the region has huge potential and possesses the biggest source markets for International visitors to South Africa,” Tshivhengwa said.

The tourism industry currently employs about 720 000 people directly and a further 1.5 million indirectly, accounting for 4.5 percent of all those employed.

The National Tourism Sector Strategy has set a target of creating 300 000 tourism jobs and opportunities by 2026.

Tourist numbers declined 1.1 percent year on year in June with arrivals from Germany and France, Australasia and the Middle East declining sharply.

Investec economist Lara Hodes said visa waivers announced by the government was a positive step in arresting the waning visitor numbers.

“While these are positive developments, extensive work still needs to be done to boost this significant industry and substantially increase its contribution to the economy,” Hodes said.