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Western Cape Tourism Destination Conference

Job creation and growth high on agenda at Western Cape Tourism Conference

Economic growth and job creation dominated discussion at the Cape Town and Western Cape Tourism Destination Conference, with increased partnerships to promote the competitiveness of the destination.

Economic growth and job creation are key focus areas in national government as well as provincial government. The tourism sector contributes no less than 10% to the Western Cape economy and therefore contributes significantly to economic growth.

According to Marthinus van Schalkwyk, the National Minister of Tourism, the aim is to increase tourism’s contribution to the gross domestic product from R190 billion in 2009 to R499 billion by 2020: “This cannot be jobless growth, and we are committed to creating 225 000 new job opportunities by 2020. International tourist arrivals also tell the story of the exceptional growth, having increased from about 528 million in 1995 to 935 million by 2010… it is expected to double again to reach nearly 1.6 billion by 2020.”

Alan Winde, Western Cape MEC for Finance, Economic Development and Tourism, said that in order for the Western Cape to contribute to the 5 million jobs by 2015 promised by President Jacob Zuma, the tourism sector needs to grow 4-5 times: “Big corporates cannot be expected to grow to that extent. It is up to the small, medium and micro enterprises to reflect such growth, which will result in growth in jobs.”

Both van Schalkwyk and Winde highlighted the need to stimulate growth in the domestic tourist market. Van Schalkwyk referred to the domestic tourist sector as “a mainstay of sustainability”. Winde stressed the importance for role-players in the region to work together to attract more visitors instead of competing against each other: “We need to come together at platforms like these and work together in order to be more competitive.”

Peter Bacon, Chairperson of the Cape Town Routes Unlimited Board says: “We need to package our destination and the diversity of attractions and experience more effectively. We need to address the value proposition by differentiating South Africa from other long-haul destinations.”

Calvyn Gilfellan, CEO of Cape Town Routes Unlimited, destination marketing organisation for Cape Town and Western Cape, commented: “Cape Town and the Western Cape remain an aspirational destination and the key to partnerships is the repackaging of the destination’s offering with input from all role-players including SA Tourism to remain competitive.”

The conference is a platform for the Western Cape tourism industry to engage on relevant topics that could enhance the destination’s competitive advantage to contribute towards industry growth.