#WorldTourismDay: Why tourism is the golden nugget of SA's economy

2016-09-27 09:52 - Ra-ees Moerat
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Cape Town - On 27 September annually, the globe's travellers and tourism stakeholders celebrate World Tourism Day with the primary objective to nurture the importance and create awareness amongst the internationally community on tourism, its social, cultural, political and economic value. 

The United Nations (UN) has made provision for the world to celebrate this day in order to draw attention to the tourism industry that could potentially contribute to achieving the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), an initiative that addresses some of the most demanding challenges that society is faced with on a global scale.

This year, in SA, a campaign with the theme, #TourismForAll was launched to coincide with World Tourism Day.

It highlights the need for accessible tourism and emphasizes the need to construct environments in such a way that it caters for everybody... those with permanent and temporary disabilities, families, kids and the elderly, should all be able to benefit from the tourism sector.

Most importantly in South Africa, tourism needs to be accessible to all by being affordable. And this year, various South African tourism stakeholders vowed to open access to make tourism possible for all South Africa. 

SANParks recently opened all national park gates to South Africans, whereafter CapeNature in the Western Cape followed suit in the annual Open Access weeks. 

All of this was in line with the #TourismForAll campaign, unveiled by Minister of Tourism Derek Hanekom at the beginnig of SA's tourism month. 

SEE: WATCH: Hanekom on #SAHeritage and why you should get excited about it

Although Hanekom admits that there is still a lot that can be done to open tourism to all South Africans, he says that we have come a long way to ensuring accessibility and affordability to locals.

Despite strict and confusing new visa regulation implemented in SA last year, tourism number sprung back enthusiastically after a short dip in 2015. Mid-year tourist arrivals to SA increased by 12.2%, with an overall year-on-year increase pegged at 14.9% in 2016. 

A total of 822 416 tourist arrivals were recorded for July 2016, which is an increase of 12.2% (89 525) compared to the same month of the previous year. There was an increase of 131 002 tourists in July 2016 compared to the same month in 2015.

SEE: Asia outperforms US and Africa as SA tourism arrivals continue to rise

And when tourism numbers increase, the South African economy is boosted in all spheres related to the industry - from hospitality to transport, food to small business enterprises. 

Moreover, current developments and forecasts in tourism by the UN is a clear indication that tourism is an integral part of society and the world's economy, and that it is able to add to SA's economy tremendously. In the last year only, the following tourism achievement were recorded: 

International tourist arrivals grew by 4.6 % in 2015 to 1 184 million
In 2015, international tourism generated US$ 1.5 trillion in export earnings
UNWTO forecasts a growth in international tourist arrivals of between 3.5% and 4.5% in 2016
By 2030, UNWTO forecasts international tourist arrivals to reach 1.8 billion (UNWTO Tourism Towards 2030)

This year, the official World Tourism Day celebrations will be held in Bangkok, Thailand. This comes after tourism in Thailand has been increasing rapidly in recent years.

Thailand is also one of the primary holiday destinations for South Africans.

In 2015, 75 825 South Africans decided it was worth their time and money, especially their money - as its currency, the baht is far more forgiving against the rand than the dollar or the euro for instance – and year to date, the number of SA holidaymakers to Thailand has increased drastically. 

ALSO SEE: 5 Up-and-coming Thailand holiday trends

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