Speech by Minister Derek Hanekom on World Tourism Day celebrations in Parys, Free State, 27 September 2016
Today is a day of celebration. And in tourism, we have a lot to celebrate We celebrate the fact that Tourism Month and World Tourism Day has brought us all together, and united us in our efforts to promote and support tourism. Just look around us, look at all the happy faces, the colourful costumes, the diverse people of our country, all coming together as one.
Tourism brings people together, all over the world. Last year, more than 1.2 billion people left their home countries to follow their dream of visiting interesting and exciting destinations. As they travelled, they met local people, experienced their culture and traditions, and they learnt about each other. Many of these tourists would have returned to their homes with an enriched understanding of what it really means to be part of today’s world, to be part of the global family of humankind. This is cause for celebration: it is wonderful that tourism can bring people together on such a vast scale and make such a big difference to our world.
September is also Heritage Month, when we celebrate our diversity, the things that make us unique, which is what the world’s tourists are very interested in experiencing.
Travel and tourism is now the world’s largest and fastest growing industry. International tourism grew by 4.4 per cent in 2015, the sixth consecutive year of above-average growth, and arrivals are projected to grow by 4 per cent this year, according to the United Nations World Tourism Organisation (UNWTO). This means that tourism is becoming a very important driver of economic growth, creating more and more jobs and business opportunities, especially in developing countries: we must celebrate these advancements, and work together on growing even further.
World Tourism Day comes at the end of the high season in the northern hemisphere and the beginning of the season in the southern hemisphere. Right now, there will be great interest in SA as a destination among the world’s travellers. In South Africa, we can celebrate the growth in arrivals in the first six months of this year, when we received 14 % more tourists than we did between January and July last year. Tourists are finding incredible value for money when they visit South Africa, and we continue to win international awards.
Just last week, the internationally influential Condé Nast magazine put South Africa at number 4 on the list of the Top 20 countries in the world to visit, France, Spain, Thailand, Morocco and Australia, who are highly developed travel destinations. If we can beat competition like that, we have a lot to celebrate.
Cllck Here to read more of Minister Hanekom’s speech delivered at World tourism Day celebrations in Parys, Free State.