The Minister of Tourism for South Africa has opened the country’s showcase tourism trade event with a strong message of sustainable tourism as the way of the future, and a more inclusive Africa between the continent’s countries.
Derek Hanekom opened Indaba with a vibrant and warm speech, which was notably inclusive of all his African ministerial counterparts and effusive for all the countries of the continent.
During his opening address, South Africa’s Tourism Minister said that by standing together, the public and private sectors in the industry would be stronger and able to contribute to the uplift of the nation.
He spoke about Indaba and how it has evolved into Africa’s largest and most successful tourism trade show that creates a platform to showcase the best of the African tourism products and services.
Hanekom delighted in sharing that South Africa’s president Matamela Cyril Ramaphosa called him on his mobile (“you can see who calls you on the phone these days”), and that he will be visiting Indaba on Saturday for its final day – a testament to the profile and importance that the government is placing on driving tourism numbers up.
“But more needs to be done to ensure we can travel more freely between the continent with relaxing of visas and the single African air transport market agreement currently signed by 26 countries,” Hanekom noted.
“Our visitors should not have to have to fly to Paris to or London to go to from one African country to another.”
The opening of the Maputo-Katembe bridge between Mozambique and South Africa, which spans just over three kilometres and reduced travel time from six to two hours, has been one of the vital steps towards this vision.
“This year also marks the 25th anniversary of a democratic South Africa, and in six days’ time the people will vote for the sixth time in an election since 1994,” Hanekom said.
“Since then, the increase in arrivals, improved tourism infrastructure and continual growth of tourism is one of the key sectors that will make a difference in the economy.”
The Tourism Minister also acknowledged Ethiopia as a shining light for leading the way in tourism growth – a whopping 48 per cent in 2018 – and said the relaxing of visas was key to this increase.
Hanekom said South Africa is looking to double its current tourism arrivals to 10.5 per cent (21 million) by 2030 – a lofty goal, he admitted, “but achievable”.
The Tourism Minister expects this to create two million more jobs in South Africa. Currently, tourism contributes eight per cent of the country’s GDP.