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CAPE TOWN, Tourism Minister Tokozile Xasa says the South African government is doing everything it can to create an enabling environment that will assist industry growth and contribute to jobs.

She said tourism supports an estimated 700,000 jobs in South Africa and contributes 3% to gross domestic product (GDP) directly.

Speaking at the Southern Africa Tourism Services Association (SATSA) Conference in Cape Town, Xasa said South Africa as a country cannot grow its tourism sector in isolation from the rest of the continent.

We need to partner with other countries, particularly our African neighbours, and elevate African tourism as a major player on the global stage.

We are targeting specific regional and international markets with our marketing campaigns to position South Africa as an attractive, value-for-money destination, offering a range of authentic experiences, Xasa said.

She said inclusive economic growth can be achieved by creating a fertile environment in which tourism can take root and flourish.

This, according to the Minister, includes giving small businesses and previously disadvantaged tourism players the opportunity to enter the industry, access the market and add to the diversity of the country's tourism offering, which makes South Africa a more attractive and unique destination.

Xasa said South Africa continues to do all it can to make the country safe.

I want to assure you that safety and security of tourists remains a top priority. We are pleased that the proactive measures announced by Police Minister Fikile Mbalula have started bearing fruit. Government, as a whole, is committed to ensuring that tourists enjoy our country's attractions in safety.

Through continued discussions and engagements with the Department of Home Affairs, we are working hard to eradicate the unintended consequences (of the travel regulations), while still maintaining high security and safety measures, the Minister said.

South Africa launched five more visa application centres in May 2016 in Shenyang, Wuhan, Xi'an, Hangzhou and Jinan respectively, she said.

Along with the current four VFS visa centres already operating in Beijing, Shanghai, Chengdu and Guangzhou, nine visa centres are now available to cover North China, Northeast China, the Central Part of China, Northwest China, East China and South China, providing much more convenience for Chinese visa applicants.

Senior business executives from the other BRICS countries (China, India, Russia and Brazil) can apply for a South African 10-year multiple-entry visa.

Xasa said to be a significant player among the strongest worldwide competitors for tourist arrivals, both government and the tourism trade need to continuously work together to capture tourist markets all over the world.

Worldwide, it is now acknowledged that domestic tourism is a key contributor to the growth of the tourism economy and provides a foundation for sustainable tourism growth and development, more specifically in times of global uncertainties, the Minister said.


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