Tourism Minister Marthinus van Schalkwyk is encouraging South Africans to travel more domestically and contribute to the local tourism industry. “By traveling at home, South Africans contribute meaningfully to the tourism industry and its competitiveness, as well as local economic growth and job creation. As you travel in your own country, you learn more about its diversity and tourism offerings,” the minister said, launching Tourism Month 2009 on Thursday.
He said it was important for South Africans to help stimulate domestic and regional tourism as it was the backbone of a sustainable and robust industry.
During Tourism Month, the department hopes to remind the public of the country’s superior status as an exciting holiday destination, as well as showcase offerings in lesser-visited provinces in the country.
The minister announced that the department had entered into a number of new partnerships with the private sector to offer South Africans affordable travel packages. This follows the success of the Sho’t Left campaign and previous partnerships with Kulula.com, Thompsons Tours, and Southern Sun.
“New partners, Peermont Hotel group, Flight Centre, and Computicket Travel, will help to make domestic travel exciting, accessible, and affordable to more South Africans,” said the minister.
The minister said with less than 300 days to go before the 2010 FIFA World Cup, now was the time for everyone to contribute in every way to make sure South Africa offers the world an unmatched experience.
Acting chief executive officer of South African Tourism, Didi Moyle, said South Africa had a rare opportunity over the next 12 months to show millions of people how friendly and welcoming the country is.
“South Africa’s natural beauty and diversity are beyond dispute and had long since been acknowledged as significant traveler draw cards. However, it remains the responsibility of every citizen to develop a warm and enabling attitude towards visitors to establish South Africa as the most welcoming destination on Earth.”
She said it simply meant that everyone should do their bit, greeting visitors, helping them with directions, and making recommendations about good places to experience in your town or city.
“It also means experiencing South Africa as a tourist yourself, to get personal experience of our destination, and to contribute constructively towards service levels and welcoming attitudes,” Ms. Moyle said.
In 2008, domestic tourists accounted for 77 percent of all tourists in South Africa last year, and over the three year period from 2006 to 2008, domestic tourists accounted an average of 79.6 percent of all tourists in South Africa.