Now is the time to market  Africa as a tourist destination

Now is the time to market Africa as a tourist destination

NOW is the time to market the African continent as a market for leisure and business, says  SA’s deputy minister of Tourism Tokozile Xasa

Speaking  at the opening of the third annual World Travel Market Africa Exhibition in Cape Town on Wednesday,  Xasa says  that the trade show could play an important role in growing the tourism sector in South Africa and throughout the African continent

“As the Department of Tourism in South Africa, we are delighted to participate in platforms that elevate the African tourism growth story; because we understand that there is no single story about this wonderful continent and World Travel Market Africa is one such platform, as a business-to-business exhibition for the inbound and outbound African travel and tourism markets.

“There is no doubt that tourism changes lives and communities, whilst adding a deep cultural understanding and appreciation for those enjoying the experience. South Africa, and indeed Africa as a whole, has been enjoying the growth of this magnificent sector,” she says.

“This trade show, and all the other platforms of this nature, provides the kind of access to markets that is essential for us to continue growing.”

She also noted that SA had experienced a 6,8% (or 645,463) decline in the number of international tourists visiting attributing this to the “aftermath of Ebola and the unintended consequences of changes to immigration regulations in the first two quarters of 2015,” adding that according to the 2015 Travel and Tourism Competitiveness Report of the World Economic Forum, SA ranked as the lead destination in its region and ranked 48th globally.

This, she says, this was driven by the country’s “rich natural and cultural resources and a positive business environment”.

“A gradual recovery is expected from most international markets in 2016,” she added.

Xasa spoke about the need for responsible tourism as “tourism is recognised as one of the main drivers of the country’s economy and employment”.

She said according to a Statistics South Africa report, it was estimated that as at the end of 2014, the industry supported about 680 817 direct jobs, or 4,5% of total employment, from a baseline of 553 990 in 2009.

She said technology was a huge focus at the exhibition and the issues of fair trade, destination marketing, energy-efficient green buildings and responsible tourism were important elements to consider in the industry. – ANA