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The South African Plan

The South African National Tourism Sector Strategy was launched in the  KwaZulu-Natal province last week. Marthinus van Schalkwyk, the National Minister of Tourism, said the strategy will help position tourism as one of the fundamental pillars of the South African economy.

"This strategy will serve not only as a tool of inspiration to grow our sector to greater heights than ever before, but also as a map to guide us along the way and a yardstick by which to measure our performance. I believe the NTSS will be the driver that will enable us to reach our ambitious growth targets," Van Schalkwyk said.

The South African government has identified tourism as one of the key contributing sectors to the medium-term strategic priorities of growing the economy and creating decent work.

"The vision of the NTSS is to position South Africa as one of the top 20 tourism destinations globally by 2020, and I believe our concerted and focused efforts as a sector will enable us to reach this goal," the Minister said.

"We all know that the tourism sector in South Africa, and its contribution to our gross domestic product (GDP), has grown tremendously in the last two decades. As a national department, and an industry, we believe we have not yet reached our full potential and the NTSS is intended to provide clear guidance on how to grow tourism's absolute contribution to the economy,” he added.


The overall goal of the strategy rests on four pillars:

  • To drive the tourism economy;
  • To enhance visitor experiences;
  • To position South Africa as a destination of choice; and
  • To sustain good governance in the industry.


Key focus areas of the NTSS

  • Arrivals - the strategy will direct the achievement of increased numbers of tourists to South Africa by among others working towards increasing the number of foreign tourist arrivals to 15 million in 2020.
  • GDP - the aim is to increase tourism's contribution to the GDP from an estimated R189.4 billion in 2009 to R499 billion by 2020.
  • Job creation - the tourism sector is committed to consolidating its efforts to create jobs and aims to create 225 000 jobs by 2020.


The NTSS also highlighted the importance of business events: “The emerging international approach to growing tourism, and business tourism in particular, is an increased focus on business events. Business events include meetings, expos, incentives, congresses, conferences, exhibitions and trade fairs. South Africa has already secured 200 international conferences for the next five years, which is estimated to attract 300 000 delegates and provide an economic boost of more than R1.6 billion.”

"In this regard I can announce today that we are establishing a National Convention Bureau. We expect this Bureau to make a significant impact in terms of amongst others consolidating, co-ordinating and strengthening our efforts to attract meetings and conventions to South Africa. The Bureau will be established under the auspices of South African Tourism and will be operational early in the new financial year," Van Schalkwyk said.

Some of the key success factors in terms of the implementation of the NTSS have been identified as:

  • Partnerships across and within the tourism sector is key to the delivery of the key focus areas and the new agenda.
  • It will also be important that up-to-date market intelligence and constant information dissemination are key elements of future plans on the strategy and growth of the industry.
  • People development is key to the success of the strategy and tourism growth. This will be facilitated through amongst others engaging the industry on skill development, providing support for tourism graduate placement and facilitating initiatives to increase the employment of unemployed young people.
  • Service excellence will remain the cornerstone of the tourism experience that the country will offer to both foreign and domestic tourists
  • Responsible tourism principles shall be promoted across the sector
  • Strong working relations and consolidated efforts between the provinces and local government. This will contribute significantly to addressing geographical spread and seasonality.
  • Institutional collaboration is also central to the success of the implementation of the Strategy.
  • Proper and agreed monitoring, evaluation and reporting mechanisms will be put in place to ensure successful implementation of the Strategy between the 2011/2012 and 2020/2021 life cycle of the Strategy.

To ensure that there is a cooperative and collaborative approach to implementation, the NTSS provides for the establishment of a Delivery Forum. This comprises the public sector, private sector, organised labour, civil society and knowledge groups. The Director-General will convene the forum at least twice a year.