The message below, dated 21 January 2016, is directed to all business and trade stakeholders in tourism from the South African Minister of Tourism, Mr Derek Hanekom.



Dear Friends in Tourism
The whirlwind holiday season has subsided for South Africans, but it remains peak season for international tourist arrivals, particularly those from colder climates. The new year is now well on its way, and this is an opportune time to look at what lies ahead. But first, a quick update on some recent impacts on our sector.


The effect of the Ebola outbreak in West Africa on the perceptions of international travellers to South Africa is fading. South Africa united in saying “No to xenophobia” and the sporadic incidents of tension that we witnessed between various communities living in South Africa have thankfully come to an end. Implementation of the Cabinet decision with respect to visa requirements will commence soon and travelling to South Africa will become easier without compromising safety and security.


Figures released by the Department of Home Affairs indicated that the total number of people who travelled to South Africa over the festive season increased over the last year.In 2016 the rigour of our analysis must be improved to take advantage of conducive factors to fill beds and restaurants and maximize sales for events and conferences in our country.


The analysis of the monthly, quarterly and annual figures – taking into account our domestic situation, conditions in source markets, economic factors and value for money, the quality of our offering, tourism infrastructure, service excellence and ease of access – will pre-occupy the Department of Tourism and SA Tourism. Making tourism information available to the sector timeously will enable informed decision-making.Our national jewels are attracting South African and International visitors in growing numbers.


Compared to last year, SANParks received 6.2% more visitors, tourists to Robben Island grew by 43%, and 28% more people used the Table Mountain Cableway to enjoy one of the most spectacular views in the world.The announcement of the discovery of Homo naledi in the Cradle of Humankind resulted in a phenomenal increase in visitor numbers to Maropeng.Visitors packed Durban’s beachfront to capacity, leaving an estimated R3-billion economic boom in their wake.


We owe a special word of appreciation to our immigration and border control officials, the police and traffic officers who patrolled our streets and highways, the lifeguards who kept beachgoers safe, and the many people who contributed to the warm and friendly welcome to tourists during this season.


The improved conditions, coupled with a favourable exchange rate for international tourists, offer exciting prospects for the growth of business for tourism in 2016.We need to strengthen collaboration between government and the private sector to convert these opportunities into growth.


This year we will accelerate our efforts to transform our sector so that it is more inclusive, and to make tourism more socially, environmentally, and economically sustainable. I look forward to everyone participating in this journey.


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