Despite the current global financial problems which continue to impact the industry, tourism will continue to play a central role in the country’s economy, Tourism Deputy Minister Tokozile Xasa says.
With South Africa continuing to emerge as an important global player, government now wants a new focus in the tourism sector to exploit the virtually unlimited opportunities presented by the concept of “responsible tourism” that has been adopted by several countries in the world.
“Despite the recession in the world, we have seen that there are emerging markets that are being opened to us and we were helped by our exposure through the soccer world cup. We were exposed to countries that were never thought of as markets,” Xasa told BuaNews on Saturday on her return from the International Responsible Tourism Conference held in London.
Xasa said South Africa was starting to attract massive amounts of tourists from many emerging markets, particularly from Africa and Asia.
South Africa’s core markets in Europe and North America remained the major source of long-haul tourists. The country’s overall tourism growth in 2011 was largely due to a 14.6 % growth in the emerging markets of Asia, driven by a growth of 24.3 % from China and 26.2 % from India.
Tourism is contributing about 8 % (R189 billion) to South Africa’s Gross Domestic Product.