The #WeDoTourism roadshow finally hit Gauteng last week.
Service providers in the tourism industry, Gauteng Tourism CEO Siphiwe Ngwenya and our spokesperson, Barba Gaoganediwe, as well as South African Tourism officials, were among the delegates at the session at the Emoyeni Conference Centre in Parktown, Johannesburg.
South African Tourism CEO Sisa Ntshona spoke about the business side of the tourism industry and explained how South Africa is going to welcome five million new visitors in the next five years – the "5-in-5" strategy.
“This sector, ladies and gentlemen, grew 13% year-on-year from last year. Right now we’re struggling for single-digit growth … in the [South African] economy. The big contributors to the economy have slowed down. Mining is no longer what it used to be, manufacturing has gone down as well, so tourism is the space that we want to push to add to the economy,” he said.
Ntshona said the growth of the tourism industry is an international trend and it’s important for citizens, tourism operators and entrepreneurs to take advantage of this.
“If you’re an entrepreneur, I hope your mind starts to tick … There’s a lot of opportunities and our role is to bring these opportunities to the fore.”
Ntshona revealed that two million international visitors visited South Africa last year and R75.5-billion was contributed by tourists to the country’s economy in 2016.
“So ask yourself the question ... how much of this R75.5-billion came to Gauteng and how much of it landed in your pockets?”
He urged tourism operators to focus on growing domestic tourism. “This is the space that I really need your help in – domestic tourism. We need to grow [the number of] travelling South Africans to explore our beautiful country and become ambassadors.
“Tourism contributes 3% to our GDP – we have to grow that contribution even more. We’re absolutely obsessed with moving that 3% to up to double-digit growth,” he said.
Margie Whitehouse, South African Tourism chief marketing officer, reiterated the growth in the tourism industry, despite economic challenges.
“In a technical recession the tourism industry has created 700 000 jobs. In a time where we are losing jobs and have an increasing unemployment rate, we as an industry are creating jobs. We now [employ] 4.5% of South Africa’s total workforce,” she said.
Whitehouse explained that the #WeDoTourism campaign was aimed at making South Africans aware of their role in marketing the country and how they stand to benefit from the tourism industry.
“Every single South African is doing tourism, whether they realise it or not,” she said, from the Department of Home Affairs officials at the airports and other points of entry who welcome visitors, to municipal workers who sweep the streets to beautify towns and cities.
“We all do tourism and that is the rallying cry, the movement that we have to get everyone behind. Why do we need to do that? Because if tourism wins, we all win.”