Tough times not over: Schalkwyk

Tough times not over: Schalkwyk
By admin

South Africa is on track to achieving its goal of 15 million international arrivals by 2020, but the tourism minister has warned it won’t be easy.

Speaking at the Indaba opening ceremony on Saturday night, South Africa’s tourism minister Marthinus van Schalkwyk revealed that the country had hit a record 12.25 million international arrivals in 2011.

Up from 6.5 million in 2004, the figures represent an almost two-fold increase over eight years. Domestic visitor numbers also grew 71% over the same period, increasing from 8.1 million to 13.9 million from 2004.

Schalkwyk attributed the gains to renewed government investment and a “strong work ethic” within the tourism industry, before turning the focus to the national 2020 tourism strategy.

Labelling the goal of 15 million international arrivals and 18 million domestic travellers by 2020 as an aggressive target, Schalkwyk admitted South Africa would have to “work harder than ever before” to achieve the goals.

Even then, current market conditions meant that it wouldn’t come easy, he said. “The Eurozone remains in crisis and some traditional markets remain subdued. Shell-shocked consumers are more value conscious than ever before [and] in some respects, the tough times are not yet over.”

Schalkwyk said the targets could be achieved if the industry worked collaboratively to deliver diverse and value for money experiences. Investing in emerging markets and keeping an eye on consumer trends was equally crucial, he added.

“We realise that we must invest early in the growth markets of the future and it is important for our collective industry to prepare to harness growth from Asia. But we modestly accept we can do better and that, together, we have to fight for every inch of our market share,” he said.

Schalkwyk also touched on the need to develop new low-cost carriers during his speech in order to advance competition in the skies. Working with like-minded airline partners to other long-haul destinations was also on the agenda, he added.

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