Tourism Business Council, Fedhasa welcome Sisulu’s appointment to tourism ministry

FEDHASA is excited about working with Minister Sisulu and believes huge opportunities in tourism, and places such as Cape Town, lie ahead. File photo.

FEDHASA is excited about working with Minister Sisulu and believes huge opportunities in tourism, and places such as Cape Town, lie ahead. File photo.

Published Aug 10, 2021


THE Tourism Business Council of South Africa (TBCSA) and the Federated Hospitality Association of South Africa (Fedhasa) have welcomed the appointment of new Minister of Tourism Lindiwe Sisulu following the Cabinet reshuffle announced by President Cyril Ramaphosa last week.

TBCSA chief executive Tshifhiwa Tshivhengwa last week also thanked the outgoing tourism minister, Mmamoloko Kubayi, and her team for the work they had done in the sector and wished her well in her new portfolio.

“The appointment of Minister Sisulu continues to show the importance of tourism in the economy and we welcome it as the Tourism Business Council. The sector faces various challenges, including unfavourable travel advisories and red-list by critical source market countries, transport permits, adoption of vaccine passports, and negative brand image due to unrest. We believe that the new minister’s experience and expertise will help the tourism sector deal with the immediate and long-term challenges,” said Tshivhengwa.

The TBCSA said Ramaphosa had outlined the challenges the country faced, including the Covid-19 vaccination programme, peace and stability after recent civil unrest in Gauteng and KwaZulu-Natal, and mobilising resources to rebuild the economy.

Trade union Fedhasa also welcomed Sisulu’s appointment last week.

It said with her extensive experience in numerous government portfolios, Sisulu was perfectly positioned to hit the ground running and to help revive the tourism industry.

“She is acutely aware of how heavily the very survival of tourism and hospitality depends on what is done within her department within the next few months,” it said.

“Fehasa is looking forward to working with Minister Sisulu on a number of exciting new opportunities to bring additional tourism to South Africa, which will create many thousands of jobs and buoy our economy,” said Rosemary Anderson, Fedhasa’s national chairperson.

One such opportunity, accelerated by Covid-19, was that of the ‘Digital Nomad’, a new trend which sees employees working remotely from any destination in the world.

“Without any marketing, Cape Town already ranked #16th in the world for remote working,” said Anderson. “With the correct marketing and visa facilitation, Fedhasa believes we can get Cape Town to rank #3 in the world.”

According to Anderson, the Digital Nomad trend could grow the tourism and hospitality sectors in South Africa to as much as 1 million bed nights per year. This would be a game-changer for the country and the tourism industry.

Good quality connectivity and infrastructure are essential to digital nomads. South Africa was one of the few countries in Africa that could robustly provide the infrastructure and the strong connectivity required to work remotely, within internationally well-priced, beautiful settings, it said.

Fedhasa said it was excited to work with Minister Sisulu on this new opportunity, which had been fast-tracked by Covid-19 and could bring a catalytic change to the tourism industry by creating hundreds of thousands of jobs.

“Important role-players in tourism are keen to work with Minister Sisulu to turn the Covid-19 trauma into a magnificent opportunity to propel South African tourism to a level it has never reached before,” said Anderson.

The tourism sector contributes 8.6 percent to the gross domestic product (GDP) of the economy and employs more than 1.5 million people and could be a catalyst in rebuilding the economy.

However, Covid-19 had decimated a once-thriving sector and the new minister will have her work cut out for her.

According to data released by Statistics South Africa in a report in April, foreign arrivals dropped by 71 percent from just more than 15.8 million in 2019 to less than 5 million in 2020.

The report noted it was evident that the Covid-19 pandemic had knocked the tourism industry badly globally and in South Africa due to the lockdown and travel restrictions that were imposed.

According to the report, the overall number of travellers - arrivals and departures - decreased by 71 percent between 2019 and 2020. The overall number of travellers decreased by 50.7 percent over a 15-year period from nearly 24.6 million recorded in 2006 to 12.1 million travellers recorded in 2020.

Stats SA said that with the world of travel having changed drastically due to the pandemic, 2020 would be remembered as the year that Covid-19 changed the world.

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