It's is World Tourism Day! The month of September celebrates and highlights the importance of the tourism sector to the South African economy.
Tourism Month features themed activities that are aligned to the United Nations World Tourism Organisation’s (UNWTO) World Tourism Day Celebrations that take place annually on 27 September.
This year’s activities are hosted in collaboration with KwaZulu-Natal Province - known as the Kingdom of the Zulu. The province is a melting pot of African, European and Indian cultures and the province boasts two World Heritage Sites, the iSimangaliso Wetland Park and the majestic Ukhahlamba-Drakensberg Park.
For today's event, the Nelson Mandela Capture Site in Howick was chosen to play host to the World Tourism Day celebrations. Now a cultural and historical exhibition, it is where Nelson Mandela was arrested on 5 August 1962.
Why was the Capture Site chosen for these celebrations?
The 2019 UNWTO theme for World Tourism Day is 'Tourism and jobs' – a better future for all. Tourism has a vast capability to create jobs and, therefore, reduce the South Africa's growing and devastating unemployment rate.
"South Africa has adapted the UNWTO theme, and remains confident that tourism will contribute to our country turning to positive economic growth desired by our government and also contribute to more jobs to its maximum potential," says the Department of Tourism.
About a month ago, Minister of Tourism, Mmamoloko Kubayi-Ngubane addressed a crowd at the Drakensberg Sun ahead of Tourism Month 2019, saying "Everyone deserves to travel", as the Sho't Left Travel week deals for 2019 were launched.
Everyone does. And everyone, all South Africans also deserve to benefit from tourism. That means more jobs driven by tourism, especially in rural communities where small businesses need all the support they can get.
How can tourism fuel local job creation in 2019 and beyond?
The Minister has set South Africans a challenge, to get out of their homes and to explore SA. Growth must not only come from international tourists, "We want about 80% of South Africans," says the Minister.
Growing tourism in rural communities, encouraging economic growth in these areas through tourism is a big goal for the department, as it wants to see people drive their own economic development instead of looking to urban areas for opportunities.