Pretoria – The National Department of Tourism will contribute 10 270 full time jobs in the current financial year, while about 530 small rural enterprises will also be supported, Tourism Minister Marthinus van Schalkwyk said on Wednesday.
Delivering his department’s Budget Vote, van Schalkwyk said the jobs would be created through the Social Responsibility Implementation (SRI) programme and the Tourism Enterprise Partnership (TEP).
The department also planned to spend R253 million in the current financial year to fund tourism projects that were aligned to the Expanded Public Works Programme.
“We believe this will assist with the transfer of wealth to poor and rural communities by amongst others ensuring ownership of assets and the facilitation of skills development,” he said.
Plans were also underway to increase the number of foreign tourist arrivals to South Africa from 7 million in 2009 to 15 million by 2020, and tourism’s total contribution to the economy from R189 billion in 2009 to R499 billion by 2020.
The number of domestic tourists could also go up from 14.6 million in 2009 to 18 million by 2020 and to create 225 000 new jobs by 2020.
Van Schalkwyk said authorities would also be using the department’s budget to foster new growth by accessing markets unlocked by the World Cup.
“In this context, we envisage maximising the value of our participation in a number of international and regional tourism platforms. We will seek cooperation with especially African partners in order to contribute to the economic prosperity of our continent through tourism.”
The department will further develop a Tourism International Relations Strategy to tactically guide our engagements at multi-lateral level, including South Africa’s participation in the BRICS formation.
The tourism sector, therefore, also welcomes the planned launch by South African Airways of a non-stop service to New York in May 2011 and a direct service to China towards the end of 2011, as well as Air France’s planned launch of a new thrice weekly non-stop service from Paris to Cape Town in November 2011, said the minister.
In terms of responsible and low carbon tourism, van Schalkwyk said he was concerned about the lack of harmonisation of accreditation certification and labelling in the tourism industry.
There were some “very admirable” private sector and civil society driven efforts that have created systems of integrity, but “these are in silos and should find broader application.”
“This regulatory vacuum in terms of the tourism sector unfortunately creates the space for abuse and green-washing. It also does not properly reward those in the industry that do play leadership roles by investing in low carbon, ethical, clean and green tourism transformation,” said van Schalkwyk.
The department will soon publish the National Minimum Standard for Responsible Tourism in the current financial year. The minister said these standards will deal with various proportions of green and responsible tourism, including biodiversity conservation, energy consumption and water use. – BuaNews