The President of South Africa, Jacob Zuma, is the latest head of state to join the ongoing World Tourism Organization (UNWTO) and World Travel & Tourism Council (WTTC) Leaders for Tourism Campaign.
President Zuma was presented an Open Letter stressing the importance of Travel & Tourism to global growth and development by WTTC President & CEO, David Scowsill and by David de Villiers, Chairman of the World Committee on Tourism Ethics, representing UNWTO Secretary-General, Taleb Rifai.
“Given the importance we attach to this industry, we are delighted to be the first African nation to join the Global Leaders for Tourism campaign,” said President Zuma receiving the Open Letter. President Zuma further highlighted the economic and social value of tourism. “We take tourism very seriously in this country given its job creation potential. That is why we have identified tourism as one of the six job drivers in our New Growth Path framework. Tourism is well positioned to be a leading avenue for addressing unemployment, especially given its labour intensive nature. Tourism jobs are not only created in the Travel & Tourism industry, but also in manufacturing, financial services, agriculture, healthcare and numerous other peripheral industries,” he said. “More significantly, this sector has become a fertile environment for entrepreneurs and small, medium and micro enterprises while historically disadvantaged people are increasingly making their careers in tourism, creating jobs for others and building their own businesses,” the President added.
President Zuma further emphasized the value of tourism as “one of the most powerful tools for nurturing world peace and stability” calling it an “industry which promotes people to people contacts and enhances understanding, tolerance and respect within nations and also across cultures and borders”.
As part of the Global Leaders for Tourism Campaign, UNWTO and WTTC are jointly presenting heads of state and government around the world an Open Letter which calls on them to acknowledge tourism’s key role in delivering on sustained and balanced growth and to prioritize the sector high in national policies in order to maximize its potential. The Open Letter outlines Travel & Tourism’s value as one of the world’s largest generators of sustainable enterprises and decent jobs, a powerful driver of socio-economic growth and development and a key player in the transformation to the Green Economy.
“South Africa clearly understands the positive impact of Travel & Tourism, with its ability to stimulate growth and generate new jobs,” said David Scowsill, speaking at the World Economic Forum on Africa in Cape Town. “President Zuma has a deep understanding of the industry, and we salute his leadership as the first African leader to sign the Golden Book.”
“We are extremely happy to see the very positive reaction that this campaign is having all around the world,” said Mr Rifai in Astana, Kazakhstan, on the sidelines of the Astana Economic Forum. “Mexico, the first country to receive the Open Letter last February, and now South Africa, through the leadership of President Zuma, are examples to the world. Their acknowledgment of tourism’s role in addressing the multiple challenges we face today, in particular those of equitable economic growth and much-needed job creation, open the way for the sector to garner the recognition it deserves,” he added.
With 8 million international tourist arrivals in 2010, South Africa is one of the fastest growing tourism destinations in the world. South African tourism was given an important boost in 2010 while hosting the FIFA World Cup - international tourist arrivals grew by 15% and tourism revenues by 4% to reach US$ 9 billion. Tourism’s contribution to the economy of South Africa has increased from 5% in 1994 to 7.7% in 2010.