As transport month draws to a close and the centennial year celebrations of Oliver Reginald Tambo being at their peak, the Minister of Tokozile Xasa convened Tourism summit under the theme, “Tourism for All: Transform, Grow and Sustain”. This summit coincide with the commemoration of World Cities Day on 31 October which is a further acknowledgement of the growing importance of our cities and urban spaces in the development of our society and it is important to bear this in mind as we seek to create opportunities in the tourism sector that are more inclusive to all. This important summit came few days before we convene the Local Economic Development conference on 09 – 10 September 2017 which will look at the creation of economic opportunities for communities, of which tourism is an integral part.
“The tourism sector plays an increasingly vital role in our economy, contributing approximately 9,5 percent to the GDP and supporting 1,4 million jobs”, this was the sentiments expressed by Minister Des van Rooyen at the tourism conference today (30 October 2017. The Minister of Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs (CoGTA), Mr Des van Rooyen joined leaders across the three spheres of government, representatives of parliament, industry practitioners and experts, at the tourism summit convened by the Minister of Tourism, Ms Tokozile Xasa.
The messages at the summit emphasised the need and the importance of ensuring that tourism sector transformation strategies and investment opportunities are aimed at radically improving black and women participation across the industry to ensure its growth and sustainability. “A performing Tourism Industry will assist the country to reach the goals of the radical socio-economic transformation and the summit places before everyone an opportunity to recommit the sector to this important agenda of the ruling party”, explained Minister. Speakers also encouraged working together to realise radical socio-economic transformation within the tourism sector and in so doing mobilise the traditional leadership sector through existing structures of traditional leaders at national, provincial and local level.
This important summit follows the Third Local Government Tourism Conference held earlier this year which looked at the role local government can play in ensuring that we contribute to the development of the industry. At this conference emphasises was also on the importance of the relationship between tourism and local economic development.
Delivering a message of support, Minister emphasised the importance of the institution of traditional leadership within the tourism sector to improve the lives of all South Africans, especially those living in traditional or rural communities as this will have a positive impact on the poorest of the poor and also increase the country’s tourism offering. He indicated that the institution of traditional leadership should also be recognised amongst the stakeholders within the tourism sector.
Minister van Rooyen echoed the sentiments expressed by Minister Xasa during the recently held Traditional Leadership Indaba that the institution is critically important in supporting tourism development on Traditional Land and in particular in rural areas of South Africa. “Without the support or buy-in from Traditional Leaders in these areas, tourism development will never succeed”, said Minister.
“Traditional Leaders are the custodian of communal land with land ownership being a critical component for economic transformation. This asset provides communities with a strategic advantage for economic development, in particular tourism development”, said Minister
There are low hanging fruits that we can take advantage of and they do not require any additional infrastructure or skills. This includes opportunities like that of being a source of income in areas where there is none or few alternative economic opportunities. To this effect, Minister urged communities and local entrepreneurs to develop supply chain opportunities among others in food production, such as vegetables; growing of flowers for hotels and lodges; establishing laundry services, etc. Communities can also develop rural community tourism destination or hubs, which can provide visitors with an established gateway to the various unique community experiences and providing authentic tourism experience.
In many traditional communities, there are annual cultural festivals which are accompanied by fun and fair, with traditional and cultural activities that includes songs and dances on display. We ought to take full advantage of these and upscale them to the levels whereby the standard and quality is of high degree to yield high-level beneficiation”, said Minister.
Minister van Rooyen committed that CoGTA will continue to support all efforts to reflect and engage on the current state of transformation in the tourism sector with a view of finding solutions that will promote its advancement and local economic development.
CoGTA Head of Communication
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