Zuma told more than 7000 delegates at the opening of SA Tourism Indaba held at the Inkosi Albert Luthuli ICC in Durban yesterday, that the country should target at least 5million more visitors in the next coming years to boost its economy.
He said the government wanted to make South Africa one of the top 20 tourism destinations in the world, as tourism showed strong growth in the past year. Zuma said South Africa and the continent should strive to get a slice of the increase.
“South Africa experienced a 13percent increase in international visitors last year,” Zuma said. “We are happy with this growth, because tourism has a substantial potential of changing people's lives for the better, especially during these depressed economic times globally. In addition to job creation, tourism also provides opportunities for entrepreneurship.”
The South African government has allocated nearly R500million to promote tourism over the next three years.
Figures from the UN World Tourism Organisation recently showed that tourism around the world recorded its seventh straight year of sustained growth since the global financial crisis. “More than a billion people now travel around the world every year, and world international tourist arrivals grew by 4percent on average,” he said.
Africa enjoyed an 8percent increase in international tourists to reach 58 million arrivals. Zuma said the information showed that Africa was growing at twice the rate of the global average.
“However, these arrivals represent only 5percent of the one billion global tourists,” he said, adding that there is immense potential for further growth in the continent's tourism sector.
The government also announced the country's new national promotion campaign called “We Do Tourism”. “It challenges every South African to play his or her part and contribute (to the promotion of) tourism.”
Zuma added that the total contribution of tourism to South Africa's economy in 2015 was about R375billion. “Tourism now supports more than 1.5million jobs in total, and we want tourism to support more than 2.2million jobs by 2026,” he said.
Meanwhile eThekwini Mayor Zandile Gumede said Durban was more than ready to host the delegates in this three-day event. “In terms of our security, hotels and communities, we are more than ready,” said Gumede.
The Indaba also has the backing of KwaZulu-Natal Department of Economic Development, Tourism and Environmental Affairs, with provincial Minister Sihle Zikalala stating that the Indaba was important for the province as it contributes towards 10percent of its coffers.