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South African Tourism Gets an Injection of Confidence At WTTC Summit

A Summit between global business leaders in Travel & Tourism and stakeholders in the local tourism industry has been a catalyst for…

A Summit between global business leaders in Travel & Tourism and stakeholders in the local tourism industry has been a catalyst for renewed impetus for the building of the South African<.> tourism industry and the national economy.

The Summit, held in Sandton Convention Centre in South Africa on August 01, 2002, was organised by the World Travel & Tourism Council (WTTC<.>), a global forum of chief executives representing all sectors of the tourist industry, including accommodation, catering, entertainment, recreation, airlines, car rental and travel-related services.

Delegates at the Summit, debating a 52 page Report by the WTTC on the impact of travel and tourism on jobs and the economy in South Africa, said they agreed with the Report`s finding that there was room for improvement in the industry. But, leading figures in tourism stressed, the corner had now been turned and they were convinced that South Africa was on the threshold of dynamic growth in tourist and travel related sectors.

Delegates endorsed three key recommendations flowing from the WTTC Report. The first of these was that the country`s travel and tourism potential was far more likely to be realised through a centralised, autonomous, highly visible and influential Ministry of Tourism.

The Report also called for more adequate funding of tourism so that more effective management and planning could be marshalled and dynamic marketing and promotion mobilised to build tourism in all its aspects.

The third key recommendation was that South African Tourism`s responsibilities be broadened to achieve maximum co-ordination between all industry players, provide skilled market intelligence, and ensure effective interaction between national and provincial governments and the private sector.

On more specific issues, delegates felt that the projected creation of 40,000 jobs a year in the tourism industry was inadequate to address the objectives of the South African economy as a whole. It was felt that a greater effort should be made to increase this target, and in this WTTC pledged its support.

Dullah Omar, Minister of Transport, told delegates that his government was committed to expanding co-operation with other African states in such fields as air traffic management and the creation of hubs to facilitate air travel between African countries.

Omar said the government was also committed to an open skies policy and it was a myth that certain overseas airlines were being denied additional landing rights in South Africa. Pointing out that South Africa granted frequencies not to airlines but to governments, who then allocated these to airlines in their countries, he indicated that in the case of Britain, specifically, additional frequencies could be made available to British airlines if requested by their government.

Andre Viljoen, CEO of South African Airways, gave a pledge that SAA would co-operate fully with South African Tourism in encouraging and attracting foreign tourists to South Africa. He said that he had already put actions in place to strengthen this co-operation.

Viljoen said that in the past two years, passenger numbers from Europe and North America had remained steady, but he had noticed an increase in passengers from other African countries.

I have been impressed with the calibre of delegates attending the Summit as well as by the quality of questions and debate, Jean-Claude Baumgarten, President of WTTC said. We came here with a genuine desire to be helpful because we recognise the country`s huge potential. The WTTC, as the world`s leading private sector organisation in the Travel & Tourism industry, will always be available to South Africa for assistance and consultation.

There is a sense that the Travel & Tourism industry in South Africa is standing at the threshold of significant growth and that the key players are determined to seize the opportunity and pull together.
He urged stakeholders to co-ordinate their actions, starting with promotion.

Ron Stringfellow, executive chairman of Southern Sun Hotels and a speaker at the Summit, said he had been impressed and encouraged by the commitment of the various speakers. There are obviously issues that still need to be resolved, but the foundations are in place to ensure that tourism can grow from strength to strength, he said. I have all the confidence in the world that the recent tourism boom can be sustainable.

Theodore Koumelis
Co-Founder & Managing Director - Travel Media Applications | Website

Theodore is the Co-Founder and Managing Editor of TravelDailyNews Media Network; his responsibilities include business development and planning for TravelDailyNews long-term opportunities.