South Africa has become the first African country to host the World Travel and Tourism Council (WTTC) Africa Leaders Forum.
The forum is currently being held in Stellenbosh outside Cape Town, bringing together CEOs and regional leaders of top travel and tourism companies from across Africa, along with tourism ministers and regional experts, to discuss key issues facing the region’s tourism sector.
By being the first host of the forum on African soil, South Africa is propelling the continent into the forefront of the tourism sector, department spokesperson Blessing Manale said.
“The growth of this sector will catalyze job creation. We require greater active participation of the continent in the work of WTTC,” South African Tourism Minister Derek Hanekom said while opening the forum on Thursday.
The African continent has huge growth potential if it harnesses the tourism sector opportunities, Hanekom said.
Speaking at the forum, Gloria Manzo, WTTC President and CEO, praised the South African government for recognizing the opportunities in this sector and the steps it has taken to realize this potential.
The travel and tourism sector is, without doubt, South Africa’s greatest engine for the creation of jobs and the alleviation of poverty, contributing to social equality, encouraging the integration of women in the workplace, and enables economic self-reliance, Manzo said.
The WTTC Africa Leaders Forum promotes further investment in Africa’s tourism sector, supports innovation in tourism and provides a unique and exclusive space for networking among industry leaders.
South Africa sees the value of the WTTC as being the voice of this industry globally bringing specialist knowledge to guide government policy and decision-making, raising awareness of the importance of the industry as an economic generator of prosperity, Manale said.
As an economic lever and a growth pillar, tourism currently supports about 1.5 million jobs directly and indirectly in South Africa. Growing the country’s tourism sector is a key aspect of the country’s Nine-Point Plan and aligned with the National Development Plan that recognizes tourism as one of the main drivers in the economy.
By achieving the objectives of the National Tourism Sector Strategy (2016-2026), there will be more sustainable jobs and a more inclusive tourism sector, said Manale.
In his State of the Nation address in February this year, President Cyril Ramaphosa set a powerful target to double the number of people directly employed in the tourism sector from 700,000 to 1.4 million.
The WTTC represents the global Travel & Tourism private sector. Its Members consist of more than 170 Chairs, Presidents and CEOs from companies in every part of the Travel & Tourism sector.
For 26 years, the WTTC has been the voice of the global tourism industry, promoting sustainable growth in the sector in partnership with governments and international institutions to create jobs, drive exports and generate prosperity.