ADDRESS BY DEPUTY PRESIDENT, JACOB ZUMA, AT OPENING OF THE SOUTH AFRICAN TOURISM WORKSHOP, Ukraine, 19 September 2000
Panyi ta panove, pan posol dozvolte podiakuvaty!
Allow me to express, on behalf of my delegation, our pleasure at having been welcomed as guests in your beautiful city.
Of course, this is not the first time that the people of this country have extended a hand of welcome to South Africa. I have, during this visit, been commenting on the past relations and the support that we received from this region during our struggle against Apartheid.
We have, since then, cemented these relations with the signing of co-operative agreements, including agreements on Trade, Culture, Science and Technology.
With this visit, we have consolidated the friendship between the peoples of our two countries while exploring further opportunities for co-operation.
Whilst it is important for our respective Governments to maintain and promote good political and economic relations, it is equally important that we also promote the people-to-people relations. We believe therefore that this workshop to promote tourism between our two countries is an important step towards this goal.
As you may know, both our countries have a great deal to offer as tourist destinations. Many South Africans have experienced the beauty of the Ukraine, your cultural offerings, the magic of Odessa and the Crimea and the many other attractions in your country.
It is equally heartening to hear that an increasing number of Ukrainians are travelling to South Africa, to experience and enjoy the beauty and variety of our land. The breath-taking attractions, span across the entire Southern African region.
The Mozambique, Swaziland and South African governments have structured a tourism package that allows our visitors to experience, during one visit, the diversity of three countries and three cultures.
Many people mistakenly believe that wild life is the only tourist attraction to be found in Africa. South Africa is unique in that it offers the visitor a package that combines three worlds in one.
For the nature-loving visitor, we offer, amongst other things, the Kruger National Park, Hluhluwe & Mkhuze home of the famous Big Five. For the adventurous, our outdoor activities are known world wide. Last but not least, the peaceful co-existence of the different cultural groupings in our country, allow the visitor to experience Africa, Asia and Europe in one. This is a unique experience that bears testimony to the strength and success of our new democracy.
Since the advent of democracy, six years ago, our reputation for successfully hosting international events is unparalleled.
Conference tourism currently represents a fast developing niche market, with South Africa hosting numerous high-level international gatherings such as the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting, the Non-Aligned Movement, the United Nations Aids Conference, as well as a host of other international conferences and world sporting events.
Our infrastructure is world class and our hospitality industry is comparable only with the best in the world. I am sure that with all the things I have listed, South Africa would still manage to pleasantly surprise any visitor from any part of the world. Nature has indeed been very kind to us.
We look forward to sharing the miraculous sights and agreeable weather conditions of our country with our Ukrainian friends. I trust that this workshop will provide an opportunity to discuss and exchange views on these tourist attractions of South Africa and the region, which will concretely lead to the expansion of tourism to South Africa.
The workshop should provide an opportunity for honest and constructive deliberations on the perceptions that you may hold on our country, both positive and negative.
On our part, we are confident that we now compete at an equal level with the top destinations in the world, with an average, annual tourism growth rate of 16% since 1994. More than 5 million people visited South Africa in 1999, making the country the 25th most popular tourist destination world wide.
Dear delegates, allow me to conclude by thanking the staff of the South African Embassy in Kiev and SA Tourism in Vienna, for a commendable initiative to bring our two nations closer. I now declare this workshop open
I thank you
Issued by the Presidency, 19 September 2000