While undergoing difficult circumstances, the tourism sector continues to be resilient , says Tourism Minister Lindiwe Sisulu.
“I know I have said numerous times before, but I will say it again, the tourism sector is incredibly resilient, and us being here today is testament to that,” Sisulu said.
Speaking at the Africa Travel Indaba underway in Durban, Sisulu said the province of KwaZulu-Natal is recovering from the devastation of the recent torrential rains, which caused flooding.
The Indaba is being held under the theme: Africa’s Stories, Your Success.
“I would like to thank each and every South African, as well as partners from across the world, for the support they have shown in ensuring that our sector and the people of KwaZulu-Natal get back on their feet,” Sisulu said on Tuesday.
The Minister is encouraged by the efforts and swift movement of the provincial leadership team led by Premier Sihle Zikalala.
“In reflecting on these catastrophes, we must be cognisant that we are experiencing warning signs of climate change, therefore our sector must be part of the united global response to the challenge of reducing carbon emissions.
“We know from our insights that responsible tourism and sustainability are big consideration for travellers from various parts of the world. Over the years, they have placed even greater importance on this issue when choosing a destination to visit,” Sisulu said.
Responsible tourism has to be the way of the future. “Practicing tourism that minimises carbon footprints, conserves energy and water, reduces waste and plastic consumption and ensures that fair benefits accrue to communities and employees, is not just an option – it is vitally important.”
Ensuring that communities access real benefits from tourism is critical to the success and sustainability of the tourism industry on the African continent.
“When we start telling our own story as a continent, we embark on the journey of changing the narrative about Africa.
“We invite the world to join and journey with us as we, together, tell the story of Africa, and importantly, we ourselves rediscover who we are – a proud invincible people, who survived the brutality of colonialism.
“As a continent, we are a unique blend of culture, heritage, nature-based, rural and urban experiences make Africa a rich and varied, all-year destination, with a unique history of courage, resilience and historic sites that tell of our advancement,” Sisulu said.
There are 625 buyers from various parts of the world who have come to experience diverse, authentically African products and experiences that the continent has on offer at this year’s indaba.
“It is without a doubt that the entire world is still navigating and recovering from the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic. The tourism sector has been amongst the hardest hit, yet has led economic recovery and bringing us together again.”
The Minister said all countries in Africa have potential for domestic tourism growth.