TOURISM TO GROW, IMPROVE LIVES OF SOUTH AFRICANS – TOURISM MINISTER

PRETORIA, The Department of Tourism will use its R2.1 billion budget to ensure that the tourism industry continues to grow and improve the lives of South Africans.

Marketing takes the largest component of this budget at 53% or R1.1 billion. This R1.1 billion will be deployed towards increasing our global market share and growing the domestic tourism market in a manner that promotes inclusive growth, Tourism Minister Tokozile Xasa said.

Addressing a pre-budget vote media briefing in Cape Town on Tuesday, she said the department's goal was to attract five million additional tourists to South Africa within the next five years.

With SA Tourism's budget at 53%, it is our strategic intent to drive government imperatives through our entity. These include contribution to job creation and radical economic transformation.

A targeted approach to positioning black enterprises in SA Tourism marketing efforts is a critical part of fulfilment of that mandate, Xasa said.

She said the value of travel and related services consumed by organs of state annually is estimated at about R10 billion.

This presents a transformation lever through state procurement. Furthermore, government controls allocation of other opportunities such as licensing of tour operators, gaming operations (including casinos), duty free stores, car rental parking bays at strategic hubs, accommodation and retail facilities at state owned facilities that are concessioned to operators.

These areas further present opportunity for accelerating radical economic transformation and we will work with partner departments to pursue this goal, Xasa said.

The tourism sector is already contributing to South Africa's economy by supporting over 1.5 million jobs in total and bringing in about 9% to the Gross Domestic Product (GDP).

The growth in the international market will be driven through the establishment of a 'Bidding Fund' to a tune of R90 million over the medium term period, strengthening our marketing and conversion mechanisms in traditional markets, expanding to new markets which include Asia; Iran; the Middle East; the African continent and its diaspora, she said.

Xasa said the department's approach moving forward was that all strategic events should be held in the country, which would allow the host city, provincial and industry partners to plan their investments with greater levels of certainty.

The department has allocated R110 million for attracting more businesses and delegates to South Africa and R224 million for infrastructure investment.

The remainder of the budget (R1 billion) will be distributed amongst Tourism Incentives, Expand Public Works Programme (including skills development), Destination Development and Enterprise Development.

Source: NAM NEWS NETWORK