1. Good afternoon Members of the Media and welcome to this briefing which is aimed at outlining the build-up programme for the tourism month extravaganza in the Province.
2. The Provincial Government has elevated various tactical interventions in various sectors of the economy to bolster efforts to grow the provincial economy and address socio-economic challenges that affect, in the main, the youth in the Province.
3. Tourism is one of the key industries that can help us to address the challenge of youth unemployment in our Province.
4. According to the World Travel and Tourism Council (WTTC) the contribution of the industry to the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) of South Africa is expected to grow from 402 billion rand in 2016 to 412 billion rand in 2017.
5. The Council forecasts that the industry’s contribution to job creation will consequently rise by 6.7 percent from 1.5 million in 2016 to 1.6 million this year (2017).
6. The preliminary results of 2016, released by STATS SA and South African Tourism, show that the province registered a decline of domestic trips from 2.1 million trips in 2015 to 1.7 million trips in 2016.
7. The main cause of this decline is due to the national decline of domestic travellers in 2016.
8. However, the good news is that our foreign arrivals for 2016 have increased to 1, 4 million visitors when compared to 1, 3 million visitors in 2015.
9. The foreign arrivals for 2016 generated revenue of R5 billion to the provincial economy.
10. We are determined to work with the industry to address the challenges and to take advantage of the boundless tourism opportunities to effect a meaningful change in the socio economic status of our communities, with specific focus on young people who constitute more than 70 percent of the population.
11. The United Nations’ World Tourism Organisation has declared 2017 as the International Year of Sustainable Tourism for Development.
12. In keeping with this theme, the Provincial Government is involved in various initiatives that are aimed at advancing sustainable tourism in the Province, which include:
12.1 Completing various infrastructure upgrades to provide a compelling experience for both domestic and international tourists in the Province.
12.2 Commence with conceptual planning to revitalise Pilgrim’s Rest and Waterval Boven (Mgwenya) to their former glory as tourism towns this year.
12.3 Accelerate implementation of bilateral agreements with the BRICS partners and SADC regions to explore opportunity for exchange programmes and joint marketing to increase tourists and attract investment to further improve our tourism sites for the benefit of all our people.
13. We have also registered our flagship tourism project in Blyde River Canyon with the National Treasury to pave the way for commencement of process of securing private sector investment.
2017 TOURISM MONTH
14. The Provincial Government welcomes the opportunity to host this year’s World Tourism Day, on 27 September 2017, here in the PLACE OF THE RISING SUN.
15. In sync with the international framework, we will celebrate this year’s tourism month under the theme “Sustainable Tourism: a tool for development.”
16. The national focus on our Province presents a unique opportunity to market and promote our beautiful Province, Mpumalanga as a preferred destination of choice for both business and leisure travelling.
17. As the Host Province for this year’s Main Event of the National Tourism Month, our public entity, Mpumalanga Tourism and Parks Agency, will be conducting a series of build-up events and activities leading to the celebrations of World Tourism Day, which will be held on the 27th of September 2017.
18. Today, we are announcing the build-up events and activities for the month of June and July 2017.
19. The Minister of Tourism, Ms Tokozile Xasa, will launch a full Tourism Month (September) programme to the media towards the end of July 2017 in Dullstroom, the trout fishing village in the Emakhazeni Municipality of Mpumalanga province.
MPUMALANGA BUILD UP ACTIVITIES FOR JUNE – JULY 2017
20. For the next two months the programme of the build-up activities is as follows:
20.1 Winter campaign – online tourism marketing campaign to promote affordable packages to the trade and consumers;
20.2 Youth Tourism Seminar – 24 June 2017 in Bushbuckridge area;
20.3 Innibos Arts Festival – media tours and exhibiting at this festival;
20.4 Tourism Safety Campaigns – July to September in all three district municipalities in partnership with the tourism industry, and
20.5 Tourism Schools Competition – July to September in partnership with the Department of Education.
21. It gives me pleasure to also announce that as part of Tourism Month, we will launch and host the first Mbombela Jazz Festival.
22. The Mbombela Jazz Festival, which will be organized by Mr Anele Mbasane of Harmocept Events, will be staged in September 2017 at Mbombela stadium. Details of these events and activities are available and will be posted in the Department’s and the MTPA’s websites.
23. The Provincial Government embraces the campaign aptly termed #IDoTourism as part of the effort to galvanise the whole society to promote township tourism and thus benefit from this viable force for economic transformation.
I Thank You.