The Deputy Minister of Tourism Tokozile Xasa addresses the opening of the VI International Wildlife Management congress in Durban, South Africa
9 Jul 2012
Addressing the VI International Wildlife Management Congress (IWMC) today in Durban, the Deputy Minister of Tourism Tokozile Xasa said “Africa is the market leader and accounts for around one half of all wildlife tourism trips worldwide”. The International Wildlife Management Congress (IWMC) 2012 is the first to be held in on the African continent.
The Wildlife Society (TWS) in partnership with Wildlife and Environmental Society of South Africa (WESSA), SANParks, EZEMVELO KZN Wildlife is hosting this prestigious congress at the Durban International Convention Centre, South Africa from today until Thursday, 12 July 2012. The Wildlife Society, a wildlife science and educational association based in the USA, co-hosts these Congresses every few years and each Congress is located in a different part of the world and is run jointly with one or more local partners
“As a developing country that needs to reduce poverty levels and ensure sustainable livelihoods, South Africa is facing critical challenges relating to the need to protect its unique and highly diverse natural environment; as well as implementing programmes and policies that seek to address the inequalities of the past and enhance rural development” Deputy Minister Xasa said.
Latest reports are showing a considerable potential for growth within this market, and expectations are that it will expand by between 8% and 10% per annum over the next decade. The global market size of wildlife tourism is estimated as being 12 million trips each year and Africa accounts for one half of all these trips, with South Africa, Kenya, Tanzania and Botswana being the top destinations. Some destinations rely heavily on wildlife tourism, but could survive without wildlife tourism which contributes roughly $500 million to the Kenyan economy, or 14% of gross domestic product (GDP).
Xasa further stated that Tourism is a principal source of income for many of the developing countries. The tourism sector provides good opportunities for many people both rich and poor - opportunities for investment in infrastructure, skills development, jobs, ownership, and contribution to the GDP to mention a few.
The IWMC provides an important forum for a multi-sectoral meeting of professionals from governments, global institutions, business and civil society organisations. It also provides a forum for organisations to showcase the implementation of their mandates and network around possible collaboration and projects. The conference will see participation of delegates from Argentina; Australia; Canada; Germany; India; Iran; Israel; Japan; Malaysia; Namibia; Nepal; New Zealand; Portugal; Switzerland; United Kingdom; USA including the host South Africa.
Xasa said South Africa’s natural environment is one of its greatest tourism resources and the tourism industry should be actively involved in conserving and protecting it. The tourism has a responsibility to develop and implement a programme to set, adhere to and measure attainment of ‘responsible tourism’ standards.
“I’m glad to say that the tourism sector has moved to make sure that the stakeholders and businesses in the sector practice responsible tourism,” she said.
“Wildlife overlaps with ecotourism, which is a form of tourism based on the principles of making an active contribution to the conservation of natural and cultural heritage and it must involve local and indigenous communities in its planning development and operation. It must also be able to contribute to the well-being of those communities and interpret the natural and cultural heritage to visitors,” Xasa said.
Deputy Minister also mentioned that some of the interventions by the Department of Tourism and its partners include the recently developed Avitourism Strategy. The Department of Trade and Industry 2009/10 research study on Avitourism and the key findings on market demand indicate that, although the current size of South Africa’s Avitourism market is relatively small (21 000 to 40 000 per annum), it is one of the most affluent niche market groups with a higher spend per tourist than that of mainstream tourists or other niche markets.
The study notes that avitourists spend between R927 million and R1.725 billion on trips and equipment in South Africa on an annual basis. In addition avitourists generally have longer trip lengths and a greater tendency to visit multiple provinces than mainstream tourism market segments.
“To be sustainable, tourism needs to make a positive contribution to the natural and cultural environment, generate benefits for the host communities, and not put at risk the future livelihood of local people. Wildlife and tourism needs to integrate considerations of sustainable development into the way in which it is operated and managed, and various organisations – including international environmental conventions,” Xasa concluded.
For media enquiries:
Balosang Sanki Lerefolo
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Tel: 012 444 6761
Cell: 082 836 8703
Issued by: Department of Tourism
9 Jul 2012
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