Much has changed in the 20 years since South Africa’s first democratic election. One sector that tells a very positive story, is Tourism. And while wine tourism is very important in my environment, tourism in general in South Africa, is a very important industry.
Speaking at the opening of Indaba, former Minister of Tourism, Marthinus van Schalkwyk said earlier this year that international arrivals in South Africa has grown with 300% over the last two decades. In 1994 the total international arrivals, including tourist arrivals to South Africa stood at 3,6 million. 2013 figures indicate a growth of 300% with total international arrivals at nearly 15 million (of which 9.6 million is tourist arrivals).
These figures make South Africa one of the world’s fastest growing leisure – and business – travel destinations. While this can be attributed to elements such as our scenic beauty, magnificent outdoors, sunny climate, cultural diversity and reputation for delivering value for money, the tourism industry also worked hard at creating an interesting offering. With proper infrastructure and diverse tourist activities catering for every tourism niche, from business, eco- and cultural tourism through to adventure and sport tourism, the focus was definitely on enhancing the tourism experience in South Africa.
Creating various platforms, but working together, seems to be a winning recipe.
Some of the organisations and initiatives that can be credited for the growth in the Tourism Sector, are:
The Tourism Business Council of South Africa* now gives a voice to the previously fragmented private sector and represents the interests of organised businesses operating in the travel and tourism industry.
The Tourism Business Index is an initiative of the TBCSA* and a quarterly business performance measure indicating the current and likely future performance of business operating within the travel and tourism sector.
TOMSA stands for Tourism Levy South Africa – a private sector initiative aimed at raising additional funding for the promotion of Destination South Africa both locally and abroad.
The Tourism Safety Initiative focuses on national crime prevention and victim support in the Tourism sector.
For me, using tourism to create a better life for our local communities, is one of the most important issues. The TBCSA Tourism Career Guidance project has the same goal. It focuses on skills development and hosts provincial Tourism Career Guidance Workshops raising the profile of job opportunities within the tourism sector.
Business tourism is enhanced by purpose-built international convention centres and associations such as the Southern African Association for the Conference Industry dedicated to maintaining and improving the efficiency and professionalism of the conference and meetings industry of South Africa, Meetings Africa and the National Convention Bureau.
A National Tourism Sector Strategy is in place to unite government and industry around common principles and goals.
The Tourism Grading Council of South Africa now underwrites the quality of our offerings.
While many tourism awards have recently been introduced, the Lilizela Tourism Awards
for excellence encourages excellence in wine tourism experiences and celebrates those who make a remarkable impact on tourism in South Africa.