Eastern Cape celebrates national tourism day Eastern Cape celebrates national tourism day
“South Africans should be tourists in their own country and enjoy what attracts millions of foreign tourists each year: a beautiful destination, rich in... Eastern Cape celebrates national tourism day

“South Africans should be tourists in their own country and enjoy what attracts millions of foreign tourists each year: a beautiful destination, rich in culture and heritage, and unsurpassed in its warm, friendly, welcoming way of life.”

This was the massage that Minister for Tourism, Martinus van Schalkwyk shared with the hundreds of guest from all over South Africa who gathered at Mbashe Royal Village on Thursday, 27 September 2012 in celebration of World Tourism Day.

According to South African Tourism, domestic tourism contributed 72% to the total tourism volume in South Africa in 2010 with the Eastern Cape claiming 13.4% of the domestic tourism.

The month of September is traditionally celebrated as a month with a strong focus on domestic tourism in South African and The Eastern Cape has been chosen to host this year’s World Tourism Day activities in South Africa this week.

“Tourism Month is one of the most important events in our calendar as it places special emphasis and focuses on showcasing how easy and affordable it is to access the local tourism experiences. Not only is this important for businesses, particularly during the winter months when tourism to the Eastern Cape takes a slight dip, but it is also important for locals to experience these offerings first hand so that they may better understand and have pride in where they come from, and then share their love of the Adventure Province with the rest of the world. Being the hosts for this year’s celebrations will certainly give the province the boost is needs,” said Vuyo Zitumane, Chairperson of the Eastern Cape Parks and Tourism Agency (ECPTA).

“Not only is this important for businesses, particularly during the winter months when tourism to the Eastern Cape takes a slight dip, but it is also important for locals to experience these offerings first hand so that they may better understand and have pride in where they come from, and then share their love of the Adventure Province with the rest of the world. Being the hosts for this year’s celebrations will certainly give the province the boost it needs,” said Vuyo Zitumane, Chairperson of the Eastern Cape Parks and Tourism Agency (ECPTA).

MEC for Department of Economic Development, Environmental Affairs and Tourism, Mcebisi Jonas said: “Tourism has the potential to achieve Accelerated and Shared Growth Initiative for South Africa (AsgiSA) goals, which are to halve poverty and unemployment by 2014. The strategy has identified tourism as one of the key economic sectors, with excellent potential for growth. As part of the growth platform targeted by AsgiSA, tourism has been set some very steep goals for the next five years: 500 000 new jobs; 8.5 million international arrivals annually; and a contribution to GDP of at least R100 billion a year.”

The Eastern Cape celebrated Tourism Month under the United Nations World Travel Organisation (UNWTO) theme for World Tourism Day 2012 – Tourism and Sustainable Energy: Powering Sustainable Development.

“This year’s theme is perfectly aligned with the ECPTA’s mandate which is to protect and enhance our environmental assets and natural resources through responsible and sustainable tourism,” said Zitumane.

With the Eastern Cape government being the first province in the country to develop a climate-change response strategy, conservation tourism is one of the ECPTA’s core mandates. In line with this mandate, the ECPTA has not only put in place some of their own interventions to reduce the impact of tourism on the environment but are also actively encouraging and promoting projects that will reduce the negative impact of tourism.

In line with this mandate, the ECPTA has not only put in place some of their own interventions to reduce the impact of tourism on the environment but are also actively encouraging and promoting projects that will reduce the negative impact of tourism.

“Responsible and sustainable tourism has been identified as the most appropriate as one of the core and guiding principles for tourism development in the country. South Africa was also the first country in the world to include responsible tourism as a key pillar of its national tourism policy,” concluded Jonas.

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