The World Travel & Tourism Council has offered its support to South African president Jacob Zuma following a promise to review visa laws.
“South Africa is leading the world in many areas of its tourism development and President Zuma’s commitment to reform visa regulations should enable the country to maximise the industry’s potential for economic growth and social advancement,” said WTTC president David Scowsill.
Travel contributes nearly ten per cent of GDP and over 1.4 million jobs to the South African economy, making a bigger employer than banking, mining and the telecommunications.
The industry also fosters national unity, pride and identity; and has played a fundamental role in social advancement over the last two decades.
In his State of the Nation address, on February 12th 2015, Zuma committed to prioritise the review of visa regulations “to strike a balance between national security and growth in tourism”.
The move follows changes implemented last year which were having a detrimental impact on the country’s tourism industry.
Scowsill will tell a gathering of senior public and private-sector representatives in Johannesburg today: “For many years, South Africa has had a near unrivalled commitment to the development of its tourism industry, with the industry represented at the highest levels of government and with policies encouraging long-term, sustainable growth that is socially-inclusive and addresses social economic development challenges at the same time.”
“Growth doesn’t happen by itself and South Africa has done so much right in recognising our industry’s role in providing the environment for social and economic advancement.
“President Zuma’s swift commitment to review recent changes to visa regulations is yet another example of how the country acts decisively to maximise the economic and social potential of our industry.
“The private sector has spoken loudly in encouraging this review as these were the companies experiencing the detrimental impacts to the immediate changes that were imposed.
“We stand in full support of this review.”
According to WTTC forecasts, tourism in South Africa is due to add almost 350,000 jobs in the next ten years.
Scowsill added: “This seems a long way off, but it is vital that government and the private sector act now to ensure that the policies are in place to create proactive and careful talent management in our industry.
“Our research shows that too many countries in the world are not implementing the right policies, programmes and partnerships to generate the appropriate skills and knowledge to support future growth.
“South Africa has a fantastic opportunity to be a world leader in one of the world’s great industries.”