The South African Minister of Tourism Derek Hanekom says South Africa will never allow the criminal actions of a few to derail the togetherness forged by the vast majority of the people in the past two decades of the democracy.
Speaking last week at the just ended annual tourism top travel show Indaba, Hanekom said the nation is also united in denouncing the spate of recent attacks on foreign nationals living in the country. He said these deplorable incidents of violence do not reflect who they are as a nation, or who they are as a continent.
“Thanks to the swift and decisive action of our government, and the support of the overwhelming majority of our people who respect human rights, the divisive intentions of those behind these attacks have been neutralised,” he stated.
He pointed out that they have also begun the work of addressing the underlying causes of the violence. He further spoke of completing a skills audit for the tourism sector and all components of its value chain this year adding that it will form the basis of a comprehensive skills development drive that will take them into the next decade of ambitious tourism growth.
He said they are also continuously improving their marketing efforts, as they balance the consolidation of their market share in traditional source markets with aggressive growth from emerging markets. He pointed out that as part of a process of continuous review and innovation, they will be strengthening SA Tourism’s hand through new earmarked funding for their domestic and regional African marketing efforts.
“To reap the full benefit of the increased international interest in South Africa as a destination, we cannot rely merely on our natural and cultural heritage. We need also, as a nation, to make a concerted effort to continually increase the levels of hospitality and friendliness, and the general level of service,” said Hanekom.
He further stated that for them in the tourism sector, the uncertainty, volatility and constant change in their industry requires them to be brave. He said they must be brave enough to leave behind the shores of yesterday and boldly confront the challenges of tomorrow. He added that technological innovation, disruptive business models and changing consumer preferences challenge the ingenuity and agility every single day.
“In embarking on this journey together, as tourism leaders in the public and private sectors, cooperation and partnership are the keys to our success. When we stand together in the face of challenges, and when we do business together at INDABA, we are so much stronger,” said Hanekom.