SPEECH DELIVERED BY MINISTER DEREK HANEKOM TO THE FEDHASA AGM
Friends and colleagues in tourism,
Thank you for inviting me to address you today, and to share some thoughts with you.
FEDHASA’s ten thousand-strong membership signifies your massive contribution to the tourism economy. Of course, I hardly need tell you that owners of hospitality establishments are among the largest investors in the tourism economy.
In fact, the hospitality sub-sector is the backbone of tourism. Tourists get fleeting impressions of airports, taxi drivers, and scenery when they arrive at their destination. But nothing creates a more lasting impression on visitors than their experience at their home-away-from-home place where they stay. . It’s far more than just a place to refresh, eat and sleep. The people in hospitality offer guests a refuge, a source of advice and assistance, and the taste of warm South African hospitality.
The relationship between government and hospitality providers is deep on many levels. Government departments, legislatures, and the judiciary are large consumers of hospitality services, particularly accommodation. Hospitality is the largest employer in the tourism sector, contributing significantly to reducing poverty and raising employment levels.
Government values the effort that the people working in hospitality put in every day to take care of our tourists. By providing excellent service and creating memorable experiences for our visitors, you have ensured that South Africa enjoys one of the highest repeat visitor rates in the world.
And by providing jobs and supporting a wide range of livelihoods across the tourism value chain, you are contributing to the GDP and helping to improve the lives of all our people.
And so it always a pleasure for me to interact and engage with members of the hospitality sector. It is especially important for us to engage during times when things are not going as smoothly as they could be.
The tourism industry is susceptible to sporadic issues that can undermine its performance, whether it’s an outbreak of a virus, a volcanic eruption or episodes of terrorism. Recently, as we are painfully aware, the combination of the Ebola outbreak in West Africa and our visa regulations had a significantly negative impact on tourist arrivals in South Africa.
Tourist arrivals to South Africa declined by 5.9% in the first quarter of this year, compared to the global growth of 4.6% for the same period. There was also a 5.6% decline in tourist arrivals from African land markets and a 6.5% decline from African air markets.
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Article Source: NDT