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Tourism: The Engine of Growth

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The tourism industry is a growth engine in Africa. Leon Louw for WhyAfrica

Tourism: The Engine of Growth

The inaugural Tourism Business Council of South Africa Leadership Conference got under way at Sun City, in the North-West Province of South Africa yesterday.

The two-day Leadership Conference is a gathering of industry stakeholders from the private and public sectors, thought leaders and academics. It is taking place under the theme: Tourism: The Engine of Growth.

In his opening address TBCSA Chairperson, Blacky Komani, lauded the ongoing partnership between government and the private sector, especially their joint efforts during the Covid-19 pandemic.

Komani says the TBCSA Leadership Conference is an opportunity for the tourism sector and the South African government to cement their partnership and renew their commitment to grow the industry, and even surpass the targets set before the onset of the pandemic.

“Our current performance as a sector is now at about 85% of 2019. Understanding that some of our key source markets have been slow to recover – domestic travel is still strong. Our quick recovery is assisted by the passion that our industry is known for, and also the manner in which our government handled the pandemic,” says Komani.

Minister in the Presidency, Mondli Gungubele, says government remains committed to creating an enabling environment for the sector to grow. He also admits to some of the challenges that have impeded efforts to enable the tourism sector to grow optimally.

“We have to regrettably admit that the enabling framework has been lacking and even deteriorating in recent years. We cannot afford to continue to derail and constrain this key economic sector of our economy due to challenges in the enabling framework,” says Gungubele.

All stakeholders need to work together

Deputy Minister of Tourism, Fish Mahlalela, reiterated government’s commitment to ensuring that all tourism industry stakeholders work together. He says infrastructure development and the fight against crime need to be addressed urgently to aid the sector meet its growth targets. The Deputy Tourism Minister has also called for greater trust between the private and public sector.

“We cannot be suspicious of each other. For this sector to expand, a working partnership between the private and public sectors and all spheres of government is necessary to create an enabling environment for exponential growth. For us to continue to be an anchor for employment and economic growth, we have to work together, and this conference is about driving this very sentiment and spirit,” says Mahlalela.

The Deputy Minister says government will soon be starting consultations on the review of the 1996 Tourism White Paper. These consultations are expected to guide the sector to the next phase of tourism development. During the Leadership Conference, deliberations will be held on ways to nurture the various partnerships between the private and public sector and the various social partners.

For the next two days, tourism industry players will engage on the work that needs to be done for the sector to meet its 2030 growth targets. Our deliberations will be guided by the common goal of creating an enabling environment for tourism to thrive, ensuring the participation of everyone in the tourism economic ecosystem and strengthening the partnership between government and the private sector.

TBCSA CEO, Tshifhiwa Tshivhengwa, says the industry has revised the 2030 arrivals target lower from 20 million to 15.6 million. These pre-pandemic targets had to be amended to take into account the country’s overall economic growth forecast, which has since been revised lower.

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