The Drakensberg Sun hosted a media launch for this year’s Tourism Month, with the department of tourism looking to further stimulate tourism and job creation.
According to the World Travel and Tourism Council, domestic tourism accounts for 2.9% of South Africa’s GDP and 4.5% of the population is employed by the industry.
The 2.9% amounts to R139 billion and is projected to grow to R145.3 billion this year.
The industry is estimated to have contributed 8.6% to last year’s GDP, with further estimates that direct employment accounted for 4.2% of total employment.
This is projected to increase from 687 300 jobs to 709 200 jobs this year.
By June, South Africa had received 5.1 million international tourists.
Home affairs and the tourism department will work hand-in-hand to expedite visa processes to grow the number of international visitors.
Around 80% of people from the Tugela Basin are employed by the tourism industry in the region.
Tourism is one of the strongest sectors of the economy and is climbing steadily in as far as the numbers of people visiting our shores.
Chris Hearne, leader of the Drakensberg Experience Tourism Association, shared a story about a Dutch family that wanted to leave the country as soon as they arrived because of some of the headlines around protests.
They stayed, but will not be coming back.
He also pleaded for a cable car, which the association has been looking to get since 2002.
“The birds in KwaZulu-Natal are not blind. They will not fly into it, as they don’t in Cape Town. That would be a game changer for the Drakensberg.”
Minister of Tourism Mmamoloko Kubayi-Ngubane emphasised tourism safety: “We don’t have to reinvent the wheel, solutions exist. We are aggressive about responding to the issues around crime or we won’t get our numbers around tourism right.”
She expressed the department’s intention to draw in millennials, senior citizens and travellers from other African countries using what she referred to as aggressive marketing.
She also said Chinese people travel extensively, yet we are able to tap into only 1% of their tourist population.
The department is considering opening up a Mumbai route and the Middle East is also in its sights, with visa fees being waived for these regions.
Domestic holidays rose by 59% this year, with 325 partners contributing to getting more local holidays on the go.
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