Tourism industry role players have met with Minister Tokozile Xasa to share their views on the Draft National Tourism Sector Strategy (NTSS).
Hosted in Johannesburg on Monday, the consultative session was aimed at soliciting inputs, as well as stimulating the public and private sectors to ensure alignment and sharing of resources in the implementation of the NTSS.
The NTSS is a tourism development framework approved by Cabinet in 2011, envisioning South Africa to be a top 20 tourist destination in the world by 2020. It is a guiding document for economic growth and job creation in the tourism sector.
The Department of Tourism commissioned the review of the NTSS in 2015 in order to ensure alignment to the National Development Plan (NDP) as well as the Tourism Act 3 of 2014.
"The NTSS is a long-term framework which responds to the country's development imperatives. We want to align ourselves to the NDP and contribute to the national agenda to inclusive growth by creating jobs and growing the economy.
"As we finalise the review of the strategy, we want to ensure that we contribute directly to the economy of the country. Key among our targets is to achieve an increase of direct jobs to one million by 2026.
"We hope to have interactions with all stakeholders, including those outside our sector because tourism takes place in these spaces too, and in order for our strategy to be realisable and realistic, these interactions are critical," Minister Xasa said.
On challenges facing the sector due to innovations such as the sharing economy, the Minister said that the tourism industry is not immune to the fourth industrial revolution.
"There will be shockers due to such technological innovations, but we remain a labour intensive sector," the Minister said.
Tourism Director-General Victor Tharage presented the draft NTSS with emphasis on the five strategic pillars of the strategy which are effective marketing, facilitating ease of access, visitor experience, destination management practices and broad based benefits which will strengthen the realisation on an inclusive and quality tourism sector.
"Sustainability in the South African context depends on transformation of the sector. Our approach needs to be evidence driven," Tharage said.
Inputs from industry representatives attending the session included, among others, the need for an enabling environment to promote tourism growth in South Africa.
The 15-member NTSS Review Panel of Experts is scheduled to meet on Thursday, 10 August 2017 to consider the public submissions and recommend the Final Draft NTSS to the Minister for endorsement.