President Cyril Ramaphosa outlines ten steps to grow the South African tourism industry

President Cyril Ramaphosa
4 min read

During his closing address at Travel Indaba 2019, on May 4, President Cyril Ramaphosa outlined ten obstacles to overcome in the tourism industry in the coming year.

“In South Africa, the annual growth rate of tourism is currently exceeding the goals in our national tourism strategy and it is expected to grow even further,” he said.

To do so, the country will need to address and overcome a number of challenges, the President said.  

Remove the red tape associated with visas

“We must reduce the onerous and often unnecessary bureaucratic red tape that tourists who want to visit our countries face,” said President Ramaphosa. “This requires of us to streamline our tourist visa regimes.”

He added South Africa is committed to working towards the African Union’s goal of visa-free travel and a single African air transport market. “We are in the process of radically overhauling our visa dispensation for the rest of the world and introducing a world-class e-visa system.”

Deal with crime perceptions

Africa needs to deal with crime and counter the perception that Africa is an unsafe tourism destination, the President urged. “This means we have to devote more resources to tackling acts of criminality, particularly crimes against tourists.”

Promote domestic tourism

“We must be vigorous in promoting domestic tourism and get the citizens of our countries to travel and see the beauty of their own countries,” said President Ramaphosa.

Forge more public-private partnerships

As governments, we need to actively seek out private sector partners for the establishment of new tourism products and offerings. The President explained that to do this, it’s important to forge stronger public-private partnerships.

Enhance inter-governmental cooperation

“Tourism must be seen as each country’s combined national effort where we must enhance inter-governmental cooperation between different departments and agencies,” said Ramaphosa.

Build modern tourism infrastructure

Modern tourism requires organisational systems and the provision of supporting infrastructure of facilities and personnel able to run the tourism business, said Ramaphosa. This means that we should develop and upgrade our energy generation, clean water reticulation, roads, bridges, hotels, hospitals, telecommunication, our game parks and many other facilities.

Empower the youth and women

“We need to consciously empower the youth and women by giving them pathways to participate effectively in the tourism industry as owners and managers of various offerings and businesses,” said President Ramaphosa. “This industry must be positioned as a key empowering sector of the economy whose power we should unleash and use to change the lives of people in our urban and rural areas.”

Build and brand Africa as a continent of success

We need to be united in our aspiration to build and brand Africa as a continent of success and a continent that will shine as a tourist destination for the world and for our own people.

Embrace Technology

We should embrace technology in the era of the fourth industrial revolution. Artificial intelligence, blockchain and the internet of things require that our tourism offerings must be well aligned with enveloping technologies. Said President Ramaphosa: “In a few years to come a tourist will land at our airports and have a self-driven car taking them to pre-programmed tourist destinations. We might soon have to design tourism offerings for robots. Let’s get ready for the brave new world that is coming.”

Let’s be open to international benchmarks

South Africa needs to be open to international benchmarks that should be used to drive up the standards, competitiveness and the quality of our domestic tourism industry.

“We are here because we want to double, triple and quadruple the number of visitors we receive in our countries every year,” the President concluded. “We also want to boost domestic tourism, for we often lose sight of the imperative of getting our own citizens to explore what their countries have to offer. We share a common goal, to offer a unique, one-of-a-kind and unforgettable consumer and business travel experience. South Africa is proud to host this Indaba in the year that we mark 25 years since we attained our freedom.”