MEC for Economic Development, Environmental Affairs and Tourism,
Chairperson of the Eastern Cape Parks and Tourism Agency Board,
Chairperson of the Trans-Caledon Tunnel Authority,
Head of Department for Economic Development, Environmental Affairs and Tourism,
CEO of the Eastern Cape Parks and Tourism Agency,
Ladies and gentlemen.
I am humbled by your presence here today to launch Tourism Month in our province. I must applaud the organizers of this event for choosing this particular venue for the launch of Tourism Month (Steve Biko Centre). The late Steve Bantu Biko, a leader par excellence, and the founder of the Black Consciousness Movement, hailed from this community of Ginsberg.
The progressive decision to bring this launch here will serve as an invaluable resource for raising society’s awareness about the contribution of Steve Biko to the fight against apartheid. This State of the Art Centre forms part of many projects that our province is working on, together with the National Department of Arts and Culture that fall under the Liberation Heritage Route projects.
We are launching the tourism month a mere 22 days away from the World Tourism Day (WTD) which will be celebrated globally on the 27th of September under the theme Tourism and Water Protecting our Common Future.
This is a day set aside by the United Nations World Tourism Organisation to celebrate our tourism treasures and as a province with a rich tourism heritage we will definitely join the rest of the world in celebrating the 33nd year of WTD.
This year’s Tourism Month theme focuses on tourism’s significant role and contribution to worldwide water conservation efforts. With over one billion people traveling internationally each year, tourism can also be an important vehicle of raising awareness and changing behaviours.
Clean, accessible water is vital to tourism, running most of the sector´s businesses, from hotels and restaurants to leisure facilities and transportation. Tourism Month is a unique opportunity to examine the challenges facing water management in tourism and the measures being undertaken by the sector to protect and promote water resources while creating benefits for local populations around water tourism destinations.
It’s an opportunity to highlight tourism’s role in better water management and bringing the cultures of the world together and promoting global understanding through travel.
South Africa’s tourism sector is emerging as one of the most important pillars of the country’s economy in terms of growth and competition with other emerging economies of the world.
This industry contributes significantly towards creation of employment, growing the economy and developing entrepreneurs. It presents opportunities for self-employment, contributing to rural and urban development and foreign exchange earnings. A diversified and developed tourist industry is a solid and sustainable foundation of socio-economic advancement.
Although economic constraints remain the major barrier to taking domestic trips which could explain the decline in our provinces domestic travel since 2007 as the South African consumer faced pressures due to the recession that brought about job losses in South Africa. Although there was a recovery in 2010, it didn’t translate to more trips, but it did translate to more holiday trips. No reason to travel was the second highest reason that people gave for not travelling in 2011.
Taking this into consideration at the Launch of National Tourism Month celebrations on the 28 August 2013 the National Minister unveiled a new domestic tourism marketing campaign: Nothing’s More Fun than a Sho’t Left that emphasises the fun of a domestic leisure getaway, and that encourages South Africans to take short breaks.
Nothing’s More Fun than a Sho’t Left brings the fun back to travel. It reminds South Africans that taking a holiday, even for a night or two, gives benefits that endure: great memories, quality time with loved ones, well-deserved escapes from dull routine, and a chance to experience new places, new people and new things.
The campaign also offers a number of holiday packages: deals that have been engineered in partnership with South African Tourism’s travel trade partners to deliver the fun, easy, accessible and affordable holidays that Nothing’s More Fun than a Sho’t Left promises.
The Eastern Cape as you have heard has developed various campaigns to improve domestic tourism. The aim of these initiatives is to encourage families and visitors to explore both the Eastern Cape and the Provincial Nature Reserves. This will also create an awareness and visibility of our Province as we link people to Adventure! And, of course, there’s no better place to do this than in the adventure province.
To promote our beautiful province clear strategies have been developed for destination marketing – both local and international travel – by the Eastern Cape Parks and Tourism Agency.
One of the marketing objectives to increase tourism to the Eastern Cape is the promotion of institutional alignment and of strategic partnerships. Great strides have been made in creating alignment between the entities responsible for provincial marketing and with other institutions responsible for tourism marketing.
This year’s call to all those involved in tourism, is to act in a way that is conscious and respectful of culture, which promotes intercultural dialogue and ensures that local communities fully participate in, and benefit from, the development opportunities of tourism. There is no better way to learn about a new culture than to experience it first-hand.
Tourism offers a wonderful connecting thread between visitor and host community. It promotes dialogue and interaction. Such contact between people of different backgrounds is the very foundation for tolerance. In a world struggling for a peaceful coexistence, tourism can build bridges and contribute to peace.
Our natural and cultural heritage is one of the Eastern Cape’s most precious assets and needs protecting. Tourism Month 2013 is also a call to all people to conduct tourism in a way that preserves and enriches the natural and cultural wealth of our magnificent province for future generations.
In concluding the Eastern Cape Province is very proud to be launching their Tourism Month Programme and I encourage you all to explore and experience the adventures that our province has to offer.