Zuma signs up for WTTC Leaders for Tourism Campaign

South African president, Jacob Zuma, has become latest head of state to join the ongoing World Tourism Organization (UNWTO) and World Travel & Tourism Council (WTTC) Leaders for Tourism Campaign.

The news comes ahead of the annual WTTC sponsored World Travel & Tourism Summit, which takes place in Las Vegas next week.

President Zuma was presented an Open Letter stressing the importance of travel and tourism to global growth and development by WTTC president 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,” he added.

“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.”

President Zuma further emphasised 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”.

Global Leaders for Tourism Campaign

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 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 tourism, with its ability to stimulate growth and generate new jobs,” said David Scowsill, speaking recently 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.

South Africa

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 per cent and tourism revenues by four per cent to reach US$ 9 billion.

Tourism’s contribution to the economy of South Africa has increased from five per cent in 1994 to 7.7 per cent in 2010.

World Travel & Tourism Summit

The latest developments come just days ahead of the annual Global Travel & Tourism Summit, which will take place in Las Vegas from May 13th-15th.

Ted Turner, Virgin Atlantic Airways’ chief executive Steve Ridgway, Expedia’s chief executive Dara Khosrowshahi, Carlson Wagonlit Travel’s chief executive Douglas Anderson, Starwood Hotels & Resorts Worldwide’s chief executive Frits van Paasschen, TUI AG’s chairman Michael Frenzel, Transaero Airlines’ chairman Alexander Pleshakov, TripAdvisor’s chief executive Steve Kaufer and more are among influential business leaders and opinion-formers sharing their insights into the potential of travel and tourism for Powering Global Growth.

Together with a specially-invited audience of more than 1,000 senior delegates, they will help shape the global agenda for the future health of the industry.

The most influential Travel & Tourism event of the year, the Global Travel & Tourism Summit brings the most influential minds to bear on the most pressing issues facing Travel & Tourism today.

It remains a crucial platform for those who truly wish to address opportunities to maximize the sustainable growth of travel and tourism.