SOUTH Africa's global competitiveness as a destination depends on four things: air access; skills development in the tourism industry; tourist product development and safety and security.
The Global Competitiveness Programme highlights areas where focused attention and investment will improve visitor experience, will grow arrivals and will deliver on economic objectives," Moeketsi Mosola, South African Tourism CEO
This was what Moeketsi Mosola told the industry when he gave a public lecture on South Africa's global destination competitiveness to a packed auditorium at the Nelson Mandela Metropolitan University in Port Elizabeth this morning.
Tourism, he said, had delivered more than a million South African jobs in the 15 years since democracy. It had seen the emergence of tens of thousands of new businesses. Direct foreign spend from tourism had grown 20 percent a year in the last decade. In 2007 alone, nine million tourists visited South Africa… eight percent more than in 2006 and outperforming the global industry by more than two percent.
The lecture was one in a series of quarterly public lectures that Mosola will deliver across South Africa's university campuses this year. South African Tourism is determined, through these lectures, to educate the nation (and young people, especially) on the viability and sustainability of the tourism industry; to create public awareness about the value of tourism to the national economy; and to grow a tourist friendly mindset among South Africans.
"Tourism is one the biggest business success stories of the last decade," he said. "The industry has become a vital part of the national economy. But there remains much work to be done," he told more than 200 people who had come to hear his lecture on the campus.
Government, the private sector, the industry and the nation needed to continue working… and working hard… to boost South Africa's global competitiveness and to bring to fruition all the potential the industry held.
The destination's Global Competitiveness Programme was already six years old. It strategically informed tactics for growth and was directed at growing South Africa's appeal as a leisure and business tourism destination. It had already affected good results, as was evidenced by last year's arrivals statistics. But there was still more work to do, he said.
"Our industry needs to work to deliver an experience that further spurs growth in arrivals. The Global Competitiveness Programme highlights areas where focused attention and investment will improve visitor experience, will grow arrivals and will deliver on economic contribution objectives."
"Government is providing a regulatory framework that is conducive for tourism operations. It must provide appropriate funding for these operations and be the champion of the tourism industry at the highest levels."
"The private sector must drive growth, invest in skills, innovation and marketing and adhere to the appropriate governance structures."
"Communities must acknowledge the fact that tourism is everybody's business. This means creating a welcoming, friendly attitude to tourists and creating safe neighbourhoods so that tourists will visit and spend money."
Tourism, Mosola said, was a growing and sustainable industry. It had seen thousands of emerging entrepreneurs build successful businesses. It was one of the bedrock industries that the South African economy depended more and more on.
"Tourism and tourism entrepreneurs have a bright future in South Africa. There is no doubt at all that both the public and the private sectors have put their collective weight behind growing this industry. There is also no doubt that we have significant challenges and barriers that we all need to address. But the will is there. The investment is there. It looks very, very good."