The Minister of Tourism Patricia de Lille, hosted a tourism stakeholder session in the Overberg District Municipality, Western Cape, today. In celebration of Tourism Month and ahead of the summer season, the Minister visited the region to provide an update on the state of tourism and actively engage with tourism enterprises throughout the value chain.
This engagement further underscores the government’s commitment to strengthening its partnerships by collaborating with all levels of government to enhance the state’s capacity. In her role as the District Champion of the Overberg region, this alignment is crucial for effective service delivery.
Tourism serves as a significant economic driver, supporting various sectors and creating both direct and indirect employment opportunities. It plays a vital role in building a strong brand, connecting numerous sectors, and ultimately delivering a world-class South African experience.
The tourism sector is a key focus area identified in the country’s Economic Reconstruction and Recovery Plan, as it significantly contributes to economic activity and job creation.
Recent statistics from StatsSA indicate continued growth in the sector. We are grateful for these improvements and commend StatsSA for their work in this regard. Arrival figures from January to July this year demonstrate South Africa’s increasing prominence in the global travel industry, both for domestic and international travelers.
The country’s unique blend of nature, culture, and history continues to attract travelers. In the first seven months of this year, we welcomed 4.8 million tourists from around the world. Our goal is to surpass pre-COVID arrival numbers and exceed 10 million arrivals by the end of March 2024. The current arrival numbers are promising as we prepare for a busy summer season.
The Overberg region boasts a wealth of tourism treasures, including pristine landscapes, abundant birdlife, and diverse flora. Notable attractions include the renowned Harold Porter Botanical Gardens, Stony Point, Agulhas National Park, Bontebok National Park, Cape Agulhas Lighthouse, De Hoop Nature Reserve, De Mond Nature Reserve, Kogelberg Nature Reserve, and the Shipwreck Museum. Collectively, these attractions welcomed 204,981 visitors between January and December 2022.
Successful projects in the Overberg region include:
- The Department of Tourism’s implementation of various tourism infrastructure projects across the country. In the Overberg region, De Hoop Nature Reserve (Cape Agulhas Local Municipality) and Kogelberg Nature Reserve (Overberg District Municipality) are undergoing maintenance. Each site has a budget allocation of R3.2 million, with construction already underway, contributing to job creation through sub-contracting.
- The Department of Tourism is also funding an infrastructure project under SANParks in Agulhas National Park, which includes the Map of Africa and the Agulhas Lighthouse projects. The Map of Africa project employed 79 locals during construction and involved seven SMMEs, contributing to local economic development. The department’s investment in this project amounts to R14.1 million.
- The Agulhas Lighthouse Project is 69% complete and includes the construction of various facilities. The department’s investment in this project is R54 million.
- The Tourism Incentive Programme (TIP) stimulates growth, development, and transformation in South African tourism. It collaborates with government departments and entities like the National Empowerment Fund (NEF), Industrial Development Corporation (IDC), Tourism Grading Council of South Africa (TGCSA), and Small Enterprise Finance Agency (SEFA) to enhance destination competitiveness, transformation, and tourism and enterprise growth.
- Skills development programs are aligned with the National Tourism Sector Strategy (NTSS) and the Tourism Human Resource Development Strategy (THRDS). In 2023/2024, two skills development programs were implemented in Overberg District Municipality: the Wine Service Training Programme and the Food Safety Quality Assurer Training Programme. Over 40 young people from the region graduated from these accredited courses funded by the Department of Tourism.
- The Educators Development Programme equips educators with practical knowledge to teach in the hospitality and tourism sectors, promoting experiential learning.
- Norms and standards for safe operations in the tourism industry address COVID-19-related challenges and promote safety protocols.
- The Green Tourism Incentive Programme (GTIP) funds tourism establishments across the country to retrofit their facilities with energy-efficient and water-efficient technologies, allowing them to operate despite water and energy constraints. Western Cape tourism establishments have received funding through this program, with five located in the Overberg region.
Minister de Lille also provided key updates on the Department’s progress:
- The Tourism Equity Fund framework was presented to Cabinet for approval, unlocking the R1.2 billion fund to support transformation and growth in the sector.
- The Minister addressed undue penalties imposed on tour operators awaiting license renewals from the National Transport Regulator.
- The Department continues to collaborate with Home Affairs to streamline the visa application process.
- Collaboration with the Ministry of Police aims to comprehensively review the National Tourism Safety Strategy, including hosting quarterly Tourism Safety Forum Meetings.
- The Department awarded the tender for the deployment of 2,200 Tourism Monitors in key tourist areas across all nine provinces before the busy summer season.
- The private sector launched the tourist safety App ‘SECURA’ on August 31, dedicated to tourists’ safety nationally.
- The Green Paper on the Development and Promotion of Tourism in South Africa was published on September 1 for public comment. The Green Paper aims to sustainably grow the South African economy through an inclusive, inspiring, visitor-oriented tourism sector, addressing barriers to tourism growth and promoting social cohesion.
Next week, on September 19, Minister de Lille will officially launch the Summer Campaign in the Eastern Cape, marking the start of the peak summer period for tourism in South Africa.
“As we celebrate Tourism Month and prepare for the peak summer season, I express my gratitude to the tourism stakeholders in the Overberg region for their hard work in growing tourism. I urge them to continue enhancing our tourism offerings to welcome more visitors and increase tourism’s economic contribution. The success of tourism depends on mutually beneficial partnerships and collaborations. We can only grow by working together, and I am determined to collaborate with the private sector to exponentially grow tourism across South Africa,” Minister de Lille stated.