Tourism minister commends growth in travel sector

Tourism Minister Patricia de Lille says that Africa’s diverse landscapes, cultures and experiences offer limitless possibilities for tourism. Picture: Ayanda Ndamane/Independent Newspapers

Tourism Minister Patricia de Lille says that Africa’s diverse landscapes, cultures and experiences offer limitless possibilities for tourism. Picture: Ayanda Ndamane/Independent Newspapers

Published May 17, 2024


Durban — Tourism Minister Patricia de Lille commended the growth in the country’s tourism sector and called for an even greater effort to get South Africa back on the map.

International delegates, buyers and sellers convened in their numbers this week for Africa’s Travel Indaba (ATI), hosted at the Durban International Convention Centre.

The Indaba provides a platform for African tourism exhibitors to showcase offerings to international and local buyers, destination marketing companies and leisure tourism services partners.

The global show had more than 1 200 exhibitors from 26 African countries and over 1 100 buyers representing 55 countries. Buyers included inbound tour operators, foreign travel agents, online booking agents, airlines and transport, destination marketing, travel and tourism companies.

De Lille said the theme “Unlimited Africa” spoke to unlimited potential because the continent boasts diverse landscapes, cultures and experiences that offer limitless possibilities for exploration and growth.

Speaking about the Tourism Sector Master Plan, De Lille said that since the last Indaba, great strides have been made in the tourism industry in South Africa, working alongside the private sector. She said that the R1.2 billion Tourism Equity Fund was launched last year to support the growth of emerging tourism enterprises.

De Lille said that the features and events at ATI were aligned with the Tourism Sector Master Plan, which has key focus areas, such as:

  • Simulating demand through exciting tourism products.
  • Enhancing education and skills development.
  • Promoting entrepreneurship and economic growth.
  • Improving infrastructure and connectivity, and
  • Fostering social cohesion and well-being and promoting regional cooperation.

De Lille said the latest official release of international arrival figures by Statistics South Africa for January to March this year indicated a growth in the tourism sector.

“International tourist arrivals from January to March 2024 totalled 2.4 million, representing a remarkable 15.4% increase when compared with the same period in 2023,” said De Lille.

South African Tourism opened entries on May 13, for the annual Sho’t Left Travel Week, to address the affordability barrier and accessibility to information for domestic travellers.

De Lille said that great strides had been made, with improved collaboration with the private sector on safety and security for travellers, including the relaunch of the National Tourism Safety Forum, made up of all three spheres of government, the SAPS, National Prosecuting Authority, regional and local tourism associations and the private sector.

“We have developed a tourism communications strategy; the Department of Tourism invested R174.5 million to deploy more than 2300 tourism monitors at key tourist attractions across the country to enhance safety,” said De Lille.

KZN Premier Nomusa Dube-Ncube said aggressive plans had been formulated to revive the key international source markets from before Covid-19 such as the UK and Germany.

She said that as the tourism industry showed green shoots globally, one of the key sub-sectors that they wanted to focus on was meetings, incentives, conferences and events.

“One of the biggest trends in tourism is the blending of the leisure tourism with business known as ‘Bleisure travel’,” she said.

Exhibitor and business owner Felistus Namoonde, of Gold Restaurant in Cape Town which offers African cuisine, said that being a part of the event was fulfilling.

“We are meeting different companies that are bringing clients to our restaurant. We are a 560-seater. We are happy to be here and we know that this will add to our business,” she said.

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