Minister of Tourism Mmamoloko Kubayi Ngubane raised an important question at the World Tourism Day celebrations at the Nelson Mandela Capture Site in KwaZulu-Natal.
"How are we going to place tourism at the center of our economy so that we can grow the economy and create jobs?" she asked the crowds.
Her questions come at the right time as this year’s Tourism Month theme is Tourism and Jobs: a better future for all.
Ngubane said that tourism has the potential to boost South Africa’s economic growth and improve job creation.
"Tourism has been a pillar of our economy and under the current economic conditions, it presents us with the best chance of increasing social inclusion.
"We need to adopt a whole of government approach to tourism so that there is consistency in the message that we send to the world at all levels of government.
"We need to create a tourism infrastructure coordination framework so that government investment in infrastructure at all levels is complementary, " she offered some solutions.
Kubayi Ngubane said the United Nation World Tourism Organisation has estimated that one job in the tourism sector creates about one and a half additional or indirect jobs in the tourism-related economy.
She said the tourism accounts for one in ten jobs worldwide.
"Tourism is one of the sectors that have the highest potential to absorb both skilled and unskilled people ranging from tour guides who can enter the sector without a matric certificate to hotel managers, " Kubayi Ngubane added.
She explained that the decline of international arrivals poses a danger to South African businesses and job opportunities.
She said if tourists don’t feel welcome in the country they will go elsewhere.
"South Africans need to ask ourselves the question: what is it that we are going to do in our various areas of responsibility to ensure that South Africa remains a destination of choice for tourists?
"We need to ensure that tourists that come to our country feel safe to enjoy their holiday and practice sustainable tourism so that we can preserve the environment and wildlife."
Celebrating World Tourism Day
Hundreds of dignitaries and tourism role players spent the day at the Nelson Mandela Capture Site to celebrate the country’s unique tourism offerings. Among the dignitaries including Deputy Minister of Tourism Fish Mahlalela, KZN MEC for Economic Development, Tourism and Environmental Affairs, Nomusa Dube-Ncube and Chairperson of the Portfolio Committee on tourism, Supra Mahumapelo.
Besides the vast entertainment options for guests, there was also a market where tourism businesses showcased their work.