Pretoria — Deputy Minister Elizabeth Thabethe says there is a need for the youth to understand that tourism is a career of choice with numerous opportunities locally and internationally.
"To attract talented young people, we need to educate them about the available career opportunities such as tourist guiding, sommelier to hotel management," the Deputy Minister said.
Deputy Minister Thabethe was speaking at the National Tourism Career Expo (NTCE) business networking in Durban on the side-lines of the Tourism Indaba currently underway at the Inkosi Albert Luthuli.
She said tourism requires people with appropriate skills and that they should be empowered so that they do not find themselves in tourism by default, but through informed choices and available opportunities.
Deputy Minister Thabethe said the youth that is informed will become an asset to the industry as they bring new exciting and creative ideas that improve the competitiveness of the sector and destination.
"The innovation brought to the sector as a result of the youth being exposed will create more authentic experiences," she said.
The South African government has targeted tourism as one of the key sectors to stimulate inclusive economic growth and job creation, in line with the National Development Plan, which is government's blueprint for growth and development aimed at eliminating poverty and reducing inequality in South Africa by 2030.
She said the most demanding target for the country is to create 11 million jobs and reduce poverty by 2030.
"We can contribute towards the National Development Plan vision by creating meaningful and sustainable opportunities for our young adults throughout the tourism value chain," the Deputy Minister said.
According to Statistics SA 2016 report, tourism's direct contribution to the GDP increased from R114.4 million in 2014 to R119 million in 2015, which is a 3% increase.
The tourism sector recorded the highest number of people employed in 2015 as compared to the previous year. 711 746 were employed in 2015 whilst 679 560 were employed in 2014.
An additional R494 million had been allocated by government over the medium term budget expenditure to promote tourism over the next three years.
This includes an injection of R110 million over three years to help attract more business events and delegates to South Africa, in the form of a Bidding Fund.
The Indaba is also expected to boost the efforts to get more South African citizens traveling within the country and will also play a major role in bringing about radical economic transformation in South Africa.
The Indaba, which is one of the largest tourism marketing events on the African calendar, will conclude on Thursday.