South Africa strives to be World’s top 20 destinations

(Xinhua) — South Africa is striving to become one of the top 20 destinations in the world by 2020 through developing “responsible tourism,” a senior government official has said.

To achieved this goal, the tourism industry should shift from focusing only on numbers of tourists and money spent by the tourists, Tourism Deputy Minister Tokozile Xasa said in remarks published on Sunday by the Government Communication and Information System (GCIS).

“Responsible tourism” was defined as an approach to the management of tourism, aimed at maximizing economic, social and environmental benefits and minimizing costs to destinations, with a focus on creating “better places for people to live in, and better places to visit,” according to the just concluded International Responsible Tourism Conference held in London.

“Responsible tourism” means that there should be a more “rigorous” focus on sustainability, said Xasa, who attended the conference.

“The world is starting to realize that responsible tourism is the way as it focuses on sustainable development and it is people orientated. People are looking for authentic experiences when they travel and that is what South Africa presents and we based our case on practical examples,” Xasa said

“Tourism is one of the six sectors that have been identified as part of the new growth path and we identified areas within tourism with a special focus on domestic tourism ahead of everything else, so we think by 2020 we should be in a position to have created about 225,000 sustainable jobs within that period,” added Xasa.

The South African government, in cooperation with the tourism industry, has worked out the National Tourism Sector Strategy (NTSS) which is to make the country one of the top 20 destinations by 2020.

The strategy commits the tourism sector to creating a total 225,000 jobs by 2020 and seeks to increase tourism’s contribution to the economy from 189.4 billion rand (about 23 billion U.S. dollars) in 2009 to 318.16 billion rand (about 39 billion dollars) in 2015 and 499 billion rand (about 61 billion dollars) by 2020.

Xasa said as one of the leaders in responsible tourism, South Africa is starting to attract massive amounts of tourists from many emerging markets, particularly from Africa and Asia.

“Despite the recession in the world, we have seen that there are emerging markets that are being opened to us and we were helped by our exposure through the soccer world cup. We were exposed to countries that were never thought of as markets,” Xasa said.

The country’s overall tourism growth in 2011 was largely due to a 14.6 percent growth in the emerging markets of Asia, driven by a growth of 24.3 percent from China and 26.2 percent from India, official figures showed.

Europe and North America remained South Africa’s major source of long-haul tourists despite a decline in the number of tourists from there due to the current global financial problems.


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