Tourism and hospitality will be a key driver of economic growth and job creation in South Africa, and the government is gearing up to create an environment conducive for growth of the sector.
This is according to Amos Fish Mahlalela, Deputy Minister of the Department of Tourism, who was opening Africa Trade Week, incorporating the SAITEX trade exhibition, The Hotel Show and Africa’s Big 7 food and beverage show at the Gallagher Convention Centre in Midrand on Sunday.
The deputy Minister noted that in South Africa, 1.5 million jobs were supported by travel and tourism in 2017, or 9.5% of the total employment in the country. The total contribution of travel and tourism to SA’s GDP was R412.5bn (8.9% of GDP) and growing. The food and beverage serving industry is the second biggest employer, followed by accommodation. Together, these three industries contributed almost 70% to total tourism employment.
Across the continent, there are around 20 million people working directly or indirectly for the tourism industry. This means that the sector accounts for 7.1% of all jobs in Africa. However, he said, although international tourism is on the rise in Africa, the continent currently accounts for just 5.8% of the world’s incoming tourists and 3.5% of global revenue in the sector. As such, the sector still has vast untapped potential – potential that, if exploited, could kick-start rapid economic growth.
“We have committed to continue to nurture the sector and drive increasingly impactful and collaborative strategies and programmes for sustained, inclusive growth into the future. We reaffirm that public–private cooperation in the area of tourism is an important lever of foreign policy and an instrument of economic diplomacy in strengthening the broader continental relations.
He emphasized the need for more transformation and improved service excellence in the sector, and said the government would work to develop an enabling environment in which tourism could thrive.
“The importance of the relationship between government and business in the tourism industry can never be overemphasized. For tourism to thrive, governments need to forge a stronger collaboration with the industry. We must however admit that the efforts towards tourism development and socio-economic emancipation of our people have not been without challenges. As government, we therefore reaffirm our readiness to contribute to this important sector of the economy,” he said. “We are prepared to work with the industry and move this industry forward together.”
Africa Trade Week, organised by dmg events brings together over 10,000 government and business stakeholders from 53 countries to drive pan-African trade and business partnerships across the retail, hospitality, food and beverage and wholesale sectors. The event will run until 25 June, at the Gallagher Convention Centre.
Africa Trade Week 2019 includes:
SAITEX, one of Africa’s largest and most well established trade exhibitions, which showcases multi-sectoral trade opportunities across the African continent.
Nearly 3,000 government officials, diplomats, entrepreneurs and business leaders from around the world, with a total budget responsibility of over US$676 million, meet at SAITEX to discuss trade opportunities, and more than 140 exhibitors from 17 countries will showcase thousands of products across all major import and export categories, including clothing and fashion accessories, IT products, pharmaceuticals, electronics, homewares, tools & hardware and chemicals. South Africa’s National Convention Bureau has also collaborated with the organisers to present an SMME pavilion.
The Trade Development Forum running alongside SAITEX serves as a platform for high-level intra-Africa trade discussions. This high-level conference will focus on topical issues such as the new African Continental Free Trade Agreement (AfCFTA), which offers an EU-style single market to at least 26 African countries, and opportunities available through international trade agreements such as AGOA.
Africa’s Big 7, the annual meeting place for thousands of food professionals across the continent who visit to source, meet and gain insight into the very latest developments affecting the industry. This exciting b2b food event connects the startups, food innovators, foodtech businesses, investors and partners who are redefining the food industry from farm-to-fork.
The two-day FOODNEXT.AFRICA conference running alongside Africa’s Big 7 is built around an agenda of critical debate on addressing opportunities and challenges in the sector.
Café Culture workshops at Africa’s Big 7 will offer free barista and drinkspro training throughout the full three days of the show.
The Global Pizza Challenge will also be staged at Africa’s Big 7, giving pizza chefs and aspiring pizza makers a chance to show off their skills, win cash prizes, and potentially be selected to compete in the international finals.
The Hotel Show, Africa’s leading event for the hospitality industry, attracts nearly 3,400 hotel GMs, owners, operators, procurement managers, designers, developers and the all-important frontline hospitality personnel.The Hotel Show showcases international products and innovations for hotels, restaurants, cafes, taverns, shebeens and food outlets, and is the ideal platform for stakeholders to network and discover the latest in services, décor, furniture, hospitality technologies, uniforms and more.
The Hospitality Leadership Forum at The Hotel Show will include over 90 expert speakers addressing burning issues, trends and opportunities in the sector.
The Africa Housekeeper League of Champions challenge at The Hotel Show will see hotel housekeeping teams racing against the clock to prepare rooms to the highest standards in front of a panel of expert judges.