Speech delivered by Minister of Tourism, Marthinus van Schalkwyk, at the Hospitality Investment Conference Africa (HICA), Sandton, South Africa
5 Nov 2009
Good morning, ladies and gentlemen, investors, industry partners and honoured guests. I bid you a hearty welcome to South Africa. Thank you for the invitation to address this third annual Hospitality Investment Conference Africa (HICA), which is dedicated to developing and growing travel and tourism on our continent.
Notwithstanding the challenging financial times we are experiencing, opportunities are emerging daily for governments and nations to improve the general well being of their citizens. Many African countries have increased their focus on the travel and tourism sector, to help them in the massive task of growing their economies. In our case, this is evidenced by the establishment of the new, standalone Department of Tourism.
In Africa, we are increasingly discovering the 'new gold' that drives job creation, development and economic growth. This 'new gold' is tourism. It is an inexhaustible resource, but also a shared one an instrument of social cohesion, and a unifier on the African continent.
I firmly believe that we have only scratched the surface of truly unlocking the benefits of tourism on our continent. Yes, we have achieved much, but hard work still lies ahead. During the second half of 2008, global tourism declined by some two percent. In Africa, however, we bucked the trend with increases in arrivals of between three percent and five percent. Yet, there is no reason to be complacent. As a continent, we still receive only some five percent of international visitors. I firmly believe that, if we work together, we can achieve much more. I can see no reason for not doubling this number in the next decade. Let's be bold and put a number to our ambitions.
To achieve success, we will have to strike the right balance between being competitors and being partners. Although competition is good and keeps all of us on our toes, we must ultimately act in partnership to achieve our full potential. We must nurture an understanding that competition and partnership stand in a symbiotic relationship.
For example, there is huge potential for the joint marketing of Africa at trade shows, which is precisely what we did last month at the JATA exhibition in Japan; or to work together to improve our tourism statistics. In this respect, South Africa, working with the United Nations World Tourism Organisation (UNWTO), will host the third capacity-building seminar on tourism statistics for Africa later this month.
We all understand the importance of developing new markets. When we say this, we often look to Europe, America or Asia. Let me refer to the one market that probably holds the greatest potential, but which, unfortunately, we often ignore. That is Africa. Yes, there is huge poverty on our continent, but millions of Africans can also afford to travel. It would be very short-sighted to ignore or underestimate the growth potential of the market on our own continent. We must address critical issues to facilitate travel on our continent, including air access, cross-border operational policies and other barriers to growth.
Despite economic challenges, we remain ever-optimistic about the future. In South Africa, we have developed a slogan for the 2010 FIFA World Cup that says "Africa's time has come." This is true not only for football, but we believe also for travel and tourism. Africa will be the theatre and South Africa will be the stage for the 2010 World Cup.
We are ready to host the biggest and most successful sporting spectacular that the world has ever seen. Every visitor can expect a warm African welcome. And in a year from now, 450 000 new ambassadors for Africa would have returned home to spread the message.
For Africa, a successful World Cup holds huge symbolic and branding value. The global exposure to the truly African experience will be immense. I am confident that the World Cup will introduce an era of new growth and new opportunities for the tourism sector in Africa.
We must also learn from the 2010 World Cup. That is why South Africa and the UNWTO will host the first ever Summit on Tourism, Sport and Mega-Events in Johannesburg from 24 to 26 February 2010. CNN will be our international media partner, and many of you have indicated an interest in becoming hospitality partners for the event.
At this important stage in the global growth and development of the travel and tourism sector and in view of the importance of 2010 for South Africa, Africa and the world playing a visible part in this exciting initiative presents an excellent opportunity, from which unequalled benefits could be derived.
The summit will provide a forum to consider the impact of mega-events particularly sport, culture, exhibitions and entertainment from a tourism perspective. It is highly relevant because of the positioning of such events in national development strategies. It is prompted by the growing numbers and effects of such events at a global and regional level; the economic, social and environmental consequences for host nations and the massive multimedia opportunities for nation branding and export promotion.
Chair, the optimistic outlook is supported by the fact that a number of international organisations and major hospitality brands are now expanding their operations into Africa, including global giants such as Accor, Rezidor and Starwood and we are also seeing the recommitment of brands such as intercontinental and Hilton across the continent.
In addition, major Southern African organisations have started to move into other parts of Africa to harness the continent's great potential. These include Southern Sun, African Sun, Protea Hotels, City Lodge and Sun International, all of which have significant investment programmes.
There has been a substantial commitment to development in the major metropolitan areas and cities throughout Africa. While this is the obvious choice for initial investment, we would like to appeal to investors also to consider the following three issues at this third annual HICA:
* Firstly: As a continent, we take care to introduce green building technologies when we develop hospitality establishments, as we pride ourselves on our natural beauty. We would like to expand this 'green' offering in South Africa in particular. Another investment opportunity relates to affordable two and three star establishments, for which there is still a considerable need in the marketplace
* Secondly: We recognise that community involvement and local ownership will remain primary drivers of African investment deals. Therefore, we are determined to find models that work for all providing a winning solution to both investors and locals. We are open to negotiation to stimulate more development into outlying areas to benefit the people of Africa
* Thirdly: No investment deal in Africa is complete without providing for human capital development. Our country, and this continent, is filled with young, raw talent that could be trained in the hospitality sector, but simply lacks the funds or access. Increasingly, bigger hotel this as an integral part of all investment deals.
In conclusion, I would like to encourage all delegates to open their minds at this conference to a new decade of tourism and hospitality growth in Africa. In South Africa, particularly, we are committed to supporting and providing an enabling environment for the tourism industry. We are currently working on a tourism sector strategy, a booster plan for our industry, which will be ready in early 2010. We are also strengthening our investment drive and support mechanism by launching our Tourism Investment Handbook at this conference, which will be dealt with later on.
It is our belief that the tourism and hospitality industry needs a 'light touch' and a more collaborative approach to achieve transformation and job creation in the sector. At the South African Department of Tourism, we are also committed to working with the private sector to enable maximum economic growth. The Tourism Business Council of South Africa (TBCSA), who developed and implemented this conference, is our primary private sector partner in development. I wish to pay tribute to the council for their ongoing commitment to working with government to achieve meaningful growth.
We are committed to work with the TBCSA to expand this conference and to ensure that the event enables more of our people to become entrepreneurs in the sector, thereby helping to grow the African tourism economy.
Our manifesto in government declares "Working together we can do more." I certainly believe that applies here and throughout Africa for the tourism sector as well. I wish you a successful conference, with long-term spin-offs for investment in our amazing continent and its people.
I thank you.
Issued by: Department of Tourism
5 November 2009
Source: Department of Tourism (http://www.tourism.gov.za)
Issued by: Department of Tourism
5 Nov 2009
[ Top ]