South African tourism has `huge growth potential`: Minister
Source: Reuters, 30/03/2018
CAPE TOWN (Reuters) - South Africa will speed up visa processes and
lure major conferences in an effort to boost foreign arrivals by 40
percent by 2021, its tourism minister said on Friday.
The new measures are part of a goal to attract five million
additional travelers â€` four million international tourists and one
million extra local holiday trips and will help limit the â€śblipâ€ť a
major drought is having on South Africaâ€™s top tourist draw card, Cape
Town, said minister Derek Hanekom.
â€śI am bullish because there is huge growth potential,â€ť Hanekom told
Reuters in an interview.
â€śOn the international front conditions are very much in our favor so
its going to be easier to achieve the four million part than the one
million,â€ť he said.
Tourism, which contributes more than 400 billion rand ($34 billion)
to Africaâ€™s most industrialized economy, or around 8 percent of GDP,
is seen by government as key to help drive growth and reduce a
stubbornly high unemployment rate.
South Africa emerged from a recession last year but is struggling to
grow its economy and less disposal income means locals are hesitant
However, the long-haul destination still provides good value for
money for foreign tourists attracted to its white beaches, iconic
Table Mountain and wildlife safaris.
Earlier this month, the World Travel and Tourism Council said travel
and tourism would contribute around 424.5 billion rand to the overall
economy in 2018, before rising by 3.5 percent a year to 598.6 billion
or 10.1 percent of GDP in 2028.
Besides establishing a fund which is geared to help South Africa win
more global conferences and exhibitions, Hanekom said home affairs
officials were also developing online visa applications, as well as
possibly producing them for tourists on arrival at airports.
â€śOf course the first prize for us and the easiest is when visitors
from particulars countries donâ€™t need visas at all,â€ť he said.
Hanekom said discussions with home affairs and foreign relations
departments would consider granting more countries visa waivers for
short trips, following success with visitor numbers from Russia which
increased 57 percent last year.
Tourism officials said current visa processes were putting off
tourists from China, India and Nigeria, some of the worldâ€™s largest
outbound travel markets.
($1 = 11.8239 rand)