Tourism is becoming a very important driver of economic growth, creating more and more jobs and business opportunities, especially in developing countries, says Tourism Minister Dereck Hanekom.
Speaking at the World Tourism Day event held in the Free State, Minister Hanekom said last year, more than 1.2 billion people left their home countries to follow their dream of visiting interesting and exciting destinations.
“As they travelled, they met local people, experienced their culture and traditions, and they learnt about each other.
Minister Hanekom said travel and tourism is now the world’s largest and fastest growing industry.
The Minister said he believes that South Africa can grow the number of international tourist arrivals by 50% in the next five years.
“Government and industry are working together to improve market access through joint marketing agreements funded by private sector and government.
“We are establishing a bidding fund for events, which will consolidate our position as the leading business events destination on the continent. We are also removing barriers to growth by addressing Immigration Regulations and licencing for tourism operations, and working with municipalities to harmonise bylaws that have an impact on tourism,” the Minister said.
Minister Hanekom said the additional 5 million tourists that the country wants to attract will provide many more jobs and more opportunities for entrepreneurs and communities to become involved in tourism.