Pretoria: President Jacob Zuma has congratulated the South African tourism sector following news that South Africa has increased its tourism figures.
The latest tourism figures indicate that tourist arrivals to South Africa grew by 10.5% for the first six months of 2012, more than double the global average of 5% for the same period.
According to President Zuma, the news is significant for the country because tourism is one of the six job drivers identified in the country’s New Growth Path.
The job drivers are infrastructure development, agriculture, mining and beneficiation, manufacturing, the green economy and tourism. Government has identified these for a special focus as part of the campaign against poverty, inequality and unemployment.
The tourism industry experienced particularly strong growth in overseas tourist arrivals, recording 17.1% growth in arrivals from outside the African continent.
A total of 1 163 477 overseas tourist arrivals were recorded for the first six months of 2012, compared to 993 364 tourist arrivals for the corresponding period in 2011.
President Zuma has welcomed the news, saying the growth in tourism figures during a global economic downturn indicated that South Africa continued to be a compelling destination for thousands of people around the world.
“Our tourism strategy is proving to be successful. We congratulate the tourism industry, both the informal and formal sectors, as well as the Department of Tourism, Tourism SA and the statutory bodies in the sector in all provinces for this achievement.
“We also acknowledge the contribution of all South Africans as we all play our role to make the tourists feel welcome in our country. Without the display of that special South African warmth and hospitality, tourists would not be coming in such great numbers to our country.”
The President urged all South Africans, especially those with opportunities of travelling abroad, to use the opportunity to market South Africa.
“Tourism has an enormous job creation potential. All South Africans are ambassadors of the Republic. We should always remember that and promote our country at every available opportunity so that we boost our tourism sector and promote the creation of much-needed jobs in our country,” the President said.