Tourism is going to play an even greater role in South African’s lives that ever before, in terms of job creation and economic development, said Tourism Minister Marthinus van Schalkwyk this week.
“We are well positioned as a tourist destination. Our efforts before and after the World Cup have had a big impact,” said the minister during a debate at the National Council of Provinces.
Tourist arrivals in South Africa registered a 15.1% growth on 2010 as more than 8 million visitors arrived from foreign shores.
“I am very pleased to say that it looks as though we will have even more tourist arrivals in 2011,” said Van Schalkwyk.
“We had every confidence that there would be no post-World Cup drop in the number of tourist arrivals, and it looks as if we were right. Indeed, we recorded growth in each moth of 2010, even after the World Cup finals.”
According to the latest figures, South Africa saw the number of foreign tourist arrivals grow by 9.3% in January when compared with the previous year.
Every single region saw positive growth, Van Schalkwyk said. In particular, the number of Asian tourists increased rapidly, with 29.4% growth.
“What’s important now is that we continue to work hard for South African tourism, to capitalize on the awareness the World Cup has generated,” Van Schalkwyk said.
The National Tourism Sector Strategy, which rests on three pillars (driving economy, enhancing experiences and ensuring sustainability), is thought to be crucial to these efforts, and envisions 15 million tourist arrivals by 2020.
“If we can reach these figures, the tourist economy would grow to R499 billion per year, and we would be able to create 225,000 new jobs,” said Van Schalkwyk