Despite challenges, South Africa is set to achieve its ambitious target of attracting 12 million international tourists by 2018, Tourism Minister Derek Hanekom said on Wednesday. tourism
“We also aim to increase domestic holiday trips from 2.8 million in 2014 to 4.1 million by 2020. This will put us firmly on track to achieve our target of creating 225,000 additional jobs in the tourism sector by 2020,” the minister said in his budget vote speech in Parliament.
In total, tourism contributed no less than 9.4 percent to the gross domestic product in 2014, and, more importantly, one in every 10 jobs in the country is supported by tourism, Hanekom said.
“Even in the face of recent challenges, such as the outbreak of the Ebola virus, and tourism arrivals to South Africa grew year- on-year by 6.6 percent in 2014,” he said.
But the minister did not mention the new strict travel regulations which have seriously affected tourism.
Despite much opposition, a new regulation requiring travelling children to have unabridged birth certificates took effect on June 1.
Under the new regulation, all children entering or leaving the country’s borders must carry unabridged birth certificates showing the details of both the mother and the father, in addition to their passports.
In a case where only one parent is travelling with the child, the regulation demands that the parent travelling with the child must carry an affidavit showing that the other parent has agreed that the child could travel in his or her absence.
An adult travelling with a child who is not their own, will also require an affidavit of consent signed by both parents of the child.
In addition, another new visa regulation also require foreign tourists to apply and collect visas in person. This means extra time and money for them when there is no South African foreign mission in their cities.
Earlier, Hanekom expressed concern over the impact the new regulations would leave on tourism.
Based on 2013 figures, 536,000 foreign visitors could be denied travel every year as a result of the new regulations.
According to the Board of Airline Representatives South Africa, the new regulations could cost the tourism sector over 6.8 billion rand (about 576 million dollars) a year and result in severe job cuts.
But in his budget vote speech, Hanekom was positive about the development of tourism, which he said “is a success story and is making a huge impact on our country.”
“If we work together, and do the right things, tourism can do even more to reduce unemployment and eradicate poverty,” said the minister.
However, tourism growth should not only be measured by the numbers of domestic tourists or international arrivals, he added.
“Tourism growth has to be environmentally and socially sustainable. And it has to be inclusive growth.To achieve this we must bring more marginalized communities into the tourism mainstream,” he said. Enditem



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