South Africa's Minister of Tourism shares vision for tourism

Minister of Tourism Tokozile Xasa pictured alongside SA Tourism CEO Sisa Ntshona (left) and President Jacob Zuma (right) at the opening of Indaba.

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Transformation and skills development will be key priorities for newly appointed Minister of Tourism, Tokozile Xasa.

Xasa, who was Deputy Minister for about nine years, and Deputy Tourism Minister, Elizabeth Thabethe, met with industry captains at a breakfast on the sidelines of Indaba on Wednesday morning.

Speaking to Tourism Update after the engagement, Xasa said driving transformation by bringing in new entrants was a key part of her vision. “We need tourism to reach all corners within South Africa,” she said, adding that people who had been excluded in the past regime needed to be brought into the sector.

Xasa said the sector already had a platform to achieve radical economic transformation and that this would be driven by programmes and initiatives, not a change in policy. She used the example of the Hidden Gems, showcased at Indaba through a partnership with SA Tourism and Satsa. Xasa added that the department would seek to leverage South Africa’s growth in new markets to bring new entrants into the sector.

The Minister said it was important to grow the skills base in the country, and that opportunities should be created, especially for the youth and women. She added that while women held many positions within the sector, more women needed to hold positions at executive level.

Going forward, Xasa said that achieving transformation and skills development were key to the sustainability of the sector.

She said she was also confident that, with the roll-out of the ‘I Do Tourism’ campaign, the profile of tourism within the country would be raised. She said that by recognising the contribution all South Africans made to the tourism sector, South Africans would be encouraged to do even more to support the industry.

While Xasa has not yet had a formal meeting with newly appointed Minister of Home Affairs, Prof Hlengiwe Buhle Mkhize, she was confident that the two departments would be able to work together to improve the implementation of immigration regulations that had harmed the tourism industry. She said that as a former ambassador, Mkhize was passionate about tourism. She added that the Immigration Advisory Board would be meeting next week and that progress was being made, with industry input, regarding the implementation of immigration regulations.