International arrivals have quadrupled since 1993
Derek Hanekom is Tourism Minister of South Africa. We started by asking him how South Africa’s tourism offering has evolved in the 25 years since democracy was installed.
This year, South Africa celebrates 25 years of democracy, a milestone for our country and the foundation of a booming tourism industry. In 1993, 3.4 million tourists travelled to South Africa, contributing 4.6% to the national economy. The number of international arrivals has quadrupled since then and now stands at 10.6 million.
How important is tourism for the state economy and what is the government doing in terms of investment to grow tourism?
If the entire value chain is taken into account, the total contribution of the travel industry amounts to €800m, or 8.9% of the gross domestic product. In 2017, tourism directly and indirectly supported around 1.5 million jobs, 9.5% of total employment. By 2028, the number is expected to grow to 2.1 million jobs.
Safety and security are always major concerns. How are you addressing these issues?
The government is continuously working to make South Africa even safer, for example, with the use of 1,450 Working for Tourism safety monitors. At the same time, I would like to stress that places that tourists typically visit are safe in every respect. In terms of crimes against tourists, South Africa is comparable to most destinations around the world.
What was new this year at your stand at ITB Berlin?
When we talk about tourism in South Africa, one thing must always be clear: growing numbers of tourists must benefit everyone involved, especially the micro and medium-sized enterprises (SMMEs), which do not have the budget to market themselves extensively. This is why again this year 10 small companies from different regions of South Africa presented themselves at our South African Tourism booth.
Photo: Derek Hanekom, Tourism Minister of South Africa