from MTHULISI SIBANDA in Dullstroom, Mpumalanga
DULLSTROOM – SOUTH Africa has launched the Tourism Month with a call to local citizens to explore the teeming attractions in the country and eventually revive the stressed economy.
Minister of Tourism, Tokozile Xasa, launched the initiative in Dullstroom in the northeastern Mpumalanga Province on the back of economic challenges.
The slide has been characterised by rating firms downgrading the country’s credit outlook to “junk” status.
Xasa noted the downgrades were among factors highlighting prevailing problems, alongside unemployment.
The minister noted the tourism sector had defied recent economic upheavals and was in a good position to revive the Southern African country’s fortunes.
She mentioned statistics indicating a 12 percent increase in international tourist arrivals in 2016.
According to government, more than 10 million international tourists arrived in South Africa last year, 13 percent more than in 2015.
This is over the global average growth rate of 3,9 percent for the period.
There were 24 million domestic tourists in South Africa.
“It is an exciting time for the tourism sector to take centre stage,” Xasa said.
“We need to tell more positive stories about our country and the tourism industry affords us that opportunity.”
She urged more South Africans to experience the country’s hospitality alongside international visitors.
“We want them to experience world class tourism excellence in their own country,” Xasa said.
Tourism Month affords the industry an opportunity for heightened focus on the sector’s importance to the local economy.
The United Nations World Tourism Organisation has declared 2007 as the Year of Sustainable Tourism for Development.
– CAJ News