Take a Sho't Left and boost tourism

2017-12-10 00:51
Minister of tourism Tokozile Xasa

Minister of tourism Tokozile Xasa

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One of the enduring evils of apartheid is the migratory labour system.

It attacked the very fabric of society, breaking up the all-important family unit.

Men were forced to leave their young wives in their homes located in the Bantustans that were essentially labour reservoirs for the then apartheid economy.

Many black families throughout the country would only be reunited in December.

Men, who were confined to single-sex hostels in the mines on the reef, would travel to their homes in the Transkei and to their villages in Venda and other homelands scattered throughout the country.

There they would reunite with their wives, their children, their mothers, their fathers and other members of their extended families.

This would be the highlight of Christmas. This period would be a re-unification of families that had been broken apart by the system of apartheid.

Fast-forward to December 2017.

We are now a liberated country.

We are on a firm path to undo the effects and legacies of apartheid and build a prosperous South Africa based on equal rights and democracy.

But, as the festive season approaches, there are a few things that we have inherited from the past that continue to be part of our social calendar.

Although nobody is still forced to carry a pass that would regulate where he or she should work or stay, we have established patterns of having second homes in the former homelands because of our history.

On the eve of Reconciliation Day, December 16, many of our people will be travelling to their second homes in the rural areas and smaller towns in the former homelands.

They will be reconnecting with other members of their families to celebrate the festive season.

As the ministry of tourism, we would like to encourage our people to use this festive season to tour their beloved country – South Africa.

A hidden gem

To many of our people, South Africa remains a hidden gem in terms of tourism.

International visitors come from various countries to enjoy our country and leave with good memories of it.

While this is great for our trade account balance, it would also be ideal for South Africans to enjoy their country.

As we reconnect with our families and relatives, we can take them to the countless tourist centres throughout the country.

For those who are keen to know about our history and the fact that our civilisation as Africans started long before the arrival of the Europeans, we can visit Mapungubwe in Limpopo to learn more about our forefathers.

For those who want to learn more about our apartheid past, they can visit the apartheid museum in Johannesburg or Hector Pieterson Memorial in Soweto.

For South Africans who are excited to watch animals in their natural environment, they can go to the various game parks, of which the highlight would be the Kruger National Park, which can be accessed through several gates located in Limpopo and Mpumalanga.

And for citizens who are fascinated with water, they can take their families and relatives to the oceans.

Our long coastline meets two oceans that offer us very different climatic conditions. Our beaches are among some of the best in the world.

As we visit the various tourism centres throughout the country, we should do so with an understanding that it is also a patriotic duty.

When we support our tourism industry, we are actually supporting the creation and sustainment of jobs.

Through tourism, we can play our part in rebuilding South Africa into a prosperous country.

While foreigners can help us rebuild our economy, we stand a better chance of succeeding in the reconstruction of our country if we are the lead actors.

Spending a night at a B&B may appear to be an uneventful gesture, but it might be the difference between someone having a job or being jobless.

But we should also confront the big elephant in the room.

As it is December, many lives will be lost on our roads because of accidents that could have been avoided.

Some of our people will risk their lives and the lives of other people by getting behind the steering wheels of their cars while they are under the influence of alcohol.

It has become an annual ritual.

We even compile statistics about road accidents in the various provinces, comparing the deaths of hundreds of people with those who were killed on our roads the year before.

It is generally a blame game.

Some commentators blame law enforcement agencies and the government for failing to act toughly against those who transgress the law.

While there may be merit in the argument that seeks to improve law enforcement on our roads, it should not escape us that road safety is the responsibility of all road users – drivers and pedestrians.

December should remain a festive season that allows us to reconnect with our families and relatives.

It should not be the month when many of us join our ancestors through horrific road accidents.

Xasa is the minister of tourism

Read more on:    tourism

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