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SONA24 | Comments on behalf of SATSA (Southern African Tourism Services Association)

With thousands of businesses and millions of livelihoods dependent on tourism, SATSA expected attention on this vital sector. But instead, the speech overlooked opportunities to turbocharge South Africa’s recovery with savvy tourism policies. 

The word “tourism” was not mentioned once, despite being the second largest economic sector. A glaring oversight of tourism’s potential amid an underwhelming speech. 

 South Africa cannot afford to squander the low-hanging fruit of tourism-led growth. With a few common-sense reforms, like ensuring our visa system and processes are working effectively, we could welcome millions more high-value international tourists. This influx would translate into hundreds of thousands of new local jobs. 

 SATSA continues to stand ready to work with the administration to maximise tourism’s benefits for all South Africans. But we need action, not just rhetoric, to tap into the unmatched potential of tourism to drive employment and prosperity across the nation. The time is now to prioritise forward-looking tourism policies that secure South Africa’s future, rather than stifling it. 

 The President touched on stabilising energy supply, improved infrastructure, tackling unemployment and improved road conditions without providing meaningful details or concrete timelines. These critical factors all play a vital role in the tourism industry, yet once again the speech showed how the private sector steps up to make tourism work for our country despite being hamstrung by external factors beyond their control.

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