George – It is regrettable that about 80% of air traffic in Africa comes from non-African airlines, according to Minister of Tourism Derek Hanekom.
Just like Minister of Transport Dipuo Peters, Hanekom was due to speak at the 45th annual general assembly of the Airlines Association of Southern Africa (Aasa) taking place in George this week. Both were, however, unable to attend as they had to be present at the ANC’s National General Council.
In a pre-recorded message to the Aasa assembly, Hanekom said aviation is an essential catalyst for the tourism industry as well as trade.
“Tourism cannot survive without aviation and aviation cannot thrive without tourism,” said Hanekom.
That is why he expressed the hope that further progress will be made with the managed liberalisation of the airways in Africa.
“We need more competitive air fares for links to South Africa. That is why it is good that Air China has confirmed a direct flight to and from SA, because China remains a very important market for us.”
He also expressed the hope that new airlines which have entered the SA airline industry will remain viable despite the tough operating environment, so that more people in the country will be able to travel.
“We invested an additional R300m for marketing of tourism until 2018. It is in all of our interest to grow the tourism market in the southern African region,” he said.
“It is very important to ensure that SA benefits from safe and dependable air services.”
* Carin Smith is the guest of Aasa at its annual general assembly.