The 2023 Tourism Business Council of South Africa Leadership Conference has concluded in Sun City. In its second year, the Conference brought together stakeholders from the public and private sectors, as well as dignitaries, guests, and delegates who are contributors to the local and global tourism industry value chain. Under the theme Tourism: The Engine for Growth, the industry deliberated and discussed the state of Tourism in South Africa.
Last year, TBCSA, together with SA Tourism revised the annual arrivals target from 21 million to 15.6 million. This year, we remain on track to achieve our 2023 goal of 8,75 million foreign tourists arrivals. As of July 2023, the number of arrivals stood at 4,8 million. This is a positive development for our sector that also suggests steady growth and improvement. We are pleased with the strength of our partnership with the Department of Tourism, under the leadership of Minister Patricia De Lille. With the support of the minister and her team, we have been able to make progress in advancing our collective tourism growth goals in the private and public sectors.
Through our collaboration with the Department of Home Affairs and Minister Dr. Aaron Motsoaledi, we are on track to set up an efficient automated world-class e-visa, and advanced e-infrastructure. Work is also being done to grant more e-visa statuses, especially to travelers from South Africa’s source markets. Minister Motsoaledi has reiterated his support to help us reach our goals of increasing tourism arrivals while ensuring that national security is not compromised.
TBCSA has committed to working with the National Department of Transport to ease the issuing of tourism vehicle operating licenses. Following our engagements with the department, we have undertaken to deploy some resources to assist in resolving the issue of backlogs and ensuring greater efficiency in the granting of licenses. We are pleased to announce that in July, Minister of Transport, Sindisiwe Chikunga issued a letter to all MECs to stop unduly penalising tour operators who have applied for license renewals and are awaiting their renewed licenses from the department.
Security remains a challenge in achieving our national tourism growth goals, and the work continues to help law enforcement authorities in tourism-related crime prevention measures. TBCSA Board Member Michael Tollman has been at the forefront of efforts to better ensure the safety and security of tourists. Through those efforts, on 31 August 2023, a new tourist safety Application called SECURA was launched. The App is solely dedicated to the safety of tourists nationally. Furthermore, the Department of Tourism has also set aside R174 million for this financial year for the deployment of Tourism monitors, especially in key local Tourism spots.
Through the work of the Presidential Council, TBCSA remains committed to playing its part in ensuring partnerships with local government in areas of interest. Our priority is to ensure that the private sector can do its work effectively and ensure a conducive environment for operation. We also recognise that continuous engagements and partnerships with our public partners are important in helping us reach our goals.
Going forward, the priorities of the Tourism Presidential Council are to ensure improvements in national air access. Our national air access initiative is in full swing but will need the cooperation of partners to fully support local and global air access. Locally, we are finding ways to better connect the county’s major airports with smaller ones. The digital migration of declarations at arrivals, as per the requirements of the South African Revenue Service (SARS), continues in earnest. We are hopeful that all the technical glitches will be resolved imminently. We will continue playing our part in educating communities about the benefits of tourism and seek their collaboration in partnering with us. When we contribute to the development of infrastructure and invest in tourism development, we also foster relations and create ecosystems that aid in ensuring the safety and security of tourists, while empowering communities as well. We remain committed to investing in tourism marketing, and strengthening our private-public partnerships, especially in key growth markets.