This year’s theme for World Tourism Day on the 27 September is: “Tourism and jobs – a better future”.
Established by the United Nations World Tourism Organization in 1980 to raise awareness on the role and impact of tourism, this day gives us the opportunity to celebrate and recognise the importance of Tourism to the economy of South Africa, and more specifically, the Western Cape.
The tourism sector remains the backbone of the Western Cape economy, supporting over 300 000 direct and indirect jobs in our province alone, thanks to the millions of tourists who flock to the region annually to enjoy some of the most scenic and breath-taking locations that the globe has to offer.
Last week I had the pleasure of visiting three fantastic tourism businesses in the Western Cape – each one showcasing a diverse range of experiences available to visitors in the province.
Our first stop was Ashia Cheetah Sanctuary in Paarl – this year’s winner of the Western Cape Lilizela MEC’s Award. A world-class cheetah sanctuary and working farm, Ashia Cheetah Sanctuary has demonstrated great impact in growing sustainable tourism and creating jobs within their community.
We also visited Stellenbosch Township and Village in Kayamandi which welcomes visitors into the hearts and homes of the local community, offering authentic culture-rich experiences. This business is, not only, a great example of sustainable development, but also contributes directly to job creation in the area.
The final stop on the tour took us back to the City of Cape Town to visit City Sightseeing Tours where we met some of the visitors to our Province experiencing the open bus tour – one of our most popular attractions – and then took a trip on their canal cruise through the V&A Waterfront – another perspective on this iconic landmark.
I was truly inspired to meet with the owners and employees of these businesses – each one passionate about what they do and committed to contributing to their communities and our province.
Like them, every person in this industry, no matter how small, fulfils an incredibly important role in delivering a culture of service excellence which supports the tourism industry and in turn, grows our economy and creates jobs.
From those who provide accommodation, to venue operators, to tour guides, to tour operators, to booking agents, to event organisers and anyone else who ensures that a visitor to the Western Cape has a great experience – you all deserve our thanks and recognition.
Thanks to you:
- the 1.7 million foreign visitors to the Western Cape annually have an unforgettable travel experience.
- the Western Cape is frequently cited as among the world’s best holiday destinations.
- the Western Cape has a high return visitor rate of nearly 50%, proving that those who visit our destination once, fall in love with it, and want to discover it again and again.
And, thanks to you, we can be proud to say that the city, and the province, is vibrant, captivating and open for tourism and business.
For our part, the Western Cape government is committed to supporting the tourism industry:
- Promoting the City of Cape Town and the Western Province to both domestic and international travellers,
- Through Air Access, launching new routes, expanding existing routes, and growing seat capacity numbers at Cape Town International Airport,
- And, working with stakeholders at all levels of government to ensure the safety of those living in South Africa and the safety of those travelling here from abroad.
So, this weekend, please go out and explore the best that the Western Cape has to offer and know that in doing so you are playing your part to support job creation in the Western Cape.