NAIROBI, Kenya, Sep 14 – The South African and Kenya governments have entered into a partnership where they will share their expertise in the tourism sector to boost revenues.
South African Tourism Regional Director for Africa Phumi Dhlomo said the two countries recognise the importance of tourism to economic growth and are working on ways to unlock its potential through joint marketing and promotions.
“We are continually seeing growth within the African market as well as where there had been improvement in what has been happening. So there has been a dramatic increase in all the markets,” he said.
“If you remember, last year, there was a decline in all the markets but that is not the case anymore.”
He said there was need for a closer working relationship between African countries saying such an initiative would fasten the development of tourism in the continent.
Mr Dhlomo further pointed out that there was need for tourism to be seen as an area of priority if benefits are to be reaped from it.
“The tourism of each individual country is the responsibility of the government of that particular country and the neighbouring countries really cannot do anything about it,” he explained. “Look at Kenya as an example; it has a vibrant tourism industry in contrast to Tanzania where tourism does not flourish as much.”
“But Kenya cannot do anything to the Tanzanian government to compel it to focus on the tourism industry,” he said.
Tourism in Kenya has for many years played a vital role in the economy of the country, in competition with the agricultural industry which was previously the highest foreign exchange earner.
It has led to economic growth and poverty eradication through employment, taxes, duties, license fees and park entry fees.
Its high multiplier effect stimulates growth in other economic sectors such as agriculture, manufacturing, transport and handicrafts. Tourism has also been identified as one of the key drivers in achieving the goals of the Vision 2030.
The sector has played a major role in helping preserve musical and dance traditions among some communities, prompted tourism employees to learn foreign languages and has raised environmental awareness among people living near game reserves.
With the industry providing employment to at least 400,000 in the formal sector and over 600,000 in the informal sector, tourism is a major contributor to induced employment effects and government involvement is crucial to ensure that every person gets what is due to them and that resources are shared equitably benefiting all parties involved.
The tourist attractions range from prolific wildlife found mostly in parks, tropical white sandy beaches, a geographically diverse landscape with remarkable flora, archaeological sites and findings and a rich history in culture dating back as far as the evolution of man.