Minister Winde Calls for Urgent Meeting with South African Airways
Alan Winde, Western Cape Minister of Finance, Tourism and Economic Development, has requested an urgent meeting with South African Airways (SAA) CEO, Monwabisi Kalawe, following the national carrier’s announcement that it will cut its Buenos Aires route.
Minister Winde said the Western Cape and the Eastern Cape were popular destinations with the Argentinian market.
"Argentina is one of our fastest-growing markets. Between 2009 and 2012 tourist arrivals into South Africa from Argentina increased by 26.8%," said Minister Winde.
Minister Winde said it was not clear who was driving the national airlift strategy and he would seek clarity on this at the meeting with SAA.
"Ahead of peak tourism season this is a particular blow. It does not inspire confidence in South Africa’s air access strategy. If we are serious about investment, exports and tourism we need more direct routes, not less."
Last month, a group of tour operators from Argentina wrote to Public Enterprises Minister Malusi Gigaba and SAA in a bid to keep the direct flights open.
The tour operators estimated that the value of inbound tourism from Argentina to South Africa was over R400 million.
Minister Winde added that South Africa’s recent ambassadors to Argentina, such as Zenani Mandela-Dlamini and Tony Leon, have worked hard to strengthen economic opportunities between the two countries.
“Unfortunately this move by SAA is a major setback to the promotion of increased trade between ourselves and Argentina,” said Minister Winde.