A Tourism Transformation Summit, themed ‘Tourism for all: Radically Transform, Grow and Sustain’, took place in Benoni, Gauteng, on 30 and 31 October 2017. The second day of the summit coincided with the commemoration of World Cities Day on 31 October.
Cllr Mark Willemse, Eden DM Speaker, Cllr Rosina Ruiters, Deputy Executive Mayor and Ms Trix Holtzhausen, Executive Manager: Corporate-/Strategic Services, were invited to attend the summit. The Programme Director of the summit, was the well known Mr Tim Modise, a South African Journalist, TV and radio presenter. He is known for his position as the Chairperson of the Black Economic Empowerment Scorecard.
During the summit, the importance of tourism was emphasised by noting that it contributes approximately 9.5 percent to the GDP and supports 1.4 million jobs in South Africa. The National Development Plan highlights tourism as a sector where more jobs can be created, small businesses can be developed, and spin-off investments can take place as more and more tourists visit South Africa.
One particularly important talking point at the summit was the importance of establishing rural community tourism destinations or hubs. These would provide tourists with gateways to various unique community experiences and authentic tourism experiences, which would be of benefit to communities regarding income. It is therefore important to increase funding opportunities for new initiatives and the expansion of small tourism businesses.
Ms Holtzhausen, Executive Manager: Corporate Services, Eden District Municipality, who also attended the summit, said that: “Transformation of the tourism sector does not mean to take from some to give to others – it means that we need to create opportunities for as many people possible to participate and benefit from the benefits that tourism offers to our country.”