WATCH: Tourism Month to put spotlight on tourism and rural development
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Tourism Minister Mmamoloko Kubayi-Ngubane officially launched Tourism Month celebrations at Destiny Lodge in Cullinan on Monday, August 31, 2020.
This follows the announcement of level 2 lockdown that permits South Africans to travel to other provinces. She said there will be a series of tourism events that will happen during September, culminating with the celebration of the World Tourism Day on September 27 in Gauteng. This year's theme is Tourism and Rural Development.
"This year’s theme was conceptualised, as a recognition of the important role that tourism plays in the development of rural communities by way of poverty alleviation, employment creation and overall stimulation of economic activities. Yet it is these communities that have suffered the most from the devastating impact the pandemic has had on the tourism sector. Without tourism, many of these communities have no other form of economic activity that can help them generate income," she said.
The Tourism Department will undertake a set of activities to foster tourism awareness in local communities, especially within less visited rural areas of each province.
She continued: "The Covid-19 pandemic has been with us for a little over four months, yet it feels as though it has been with us longer. This is because its impact has been felt in every sphere of our lives. By all indications, the worst is behind us. Though we are not oblivious to the health risks that still remain and may be with us for months to come, we are happy that the people of the world and here at home have begun to embrace living in the new normal.
"When we started working on preparing the sector to reopen in accordance with the risk-adjusted strategy, we said that this would happen one step at a time and that is precisely what happened. Step by step, over time we managed to convince the sceptics that the tourism sector could operate safely in the midst of the pandemic."
Kubayi-Ngubane said the department will be driving their domestic tourism campaign, aimed at getting South Africans to travel under the guidance of the health and safety protocols.
"For our marketing efforts to have an impact, we have taken some effort to understand the needs of domestic tourists, so that we can pitch our message at the right level. The indications are the domestic travellers want attractions and tourism activities with strict adherence to the health and safety protocols, they yearn to travel to discover previously undiscovered local attractions with a renewed appreciation of local culture, history and nature, and seek affordable travel packages," she said.
Kubayi-Ngubane believed that South Africans have no valid reason not to explore the country.
"How many tourist attractions are in our backyards that we have never thought to visit? Let us get out and explore and get to know the beautiful country that is South Africa. Let’s protect ourselves, let’s wear masks, let’s wash our hands and let’s continue to practice social distancing," she said.