Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs (CoGTA) Minister Des van Rooyen has urged traditional leaders to use economic opportunities offered by tourism in their areas.
Speaking at the Tourism Transformation Summit convened by the Tourism Minister Tokozile Xasa on Tuesday, Van Rooyen said without the support or buy-in from Traditional Leaders on traditional land, tourism development will never succeed.
“Traditional Leaders are the custodian of communal land with land ownership being a critical component for economic transformation. This asset provides communities with a strategic advantage for economic development, in particular tourism development,” said Van Rooyen.
The summit was held under the theme ‘Tourism for All: Transform, Grow and Sustain”. It coincided with the commemoration of World Cities Day on 31 October.
The importance of tourism was emphasised by noting that it contributes “approximately 9.5 percent to the GDP and supporting 1.4 million jobs”, said Van Rooyen.
The Minister urged rural communities to take advantage of opportunities that do not require any additional infrastructure or skills. These include the development of supply chain opportunities such as in food production – growing vegetables, growing oflowers for hotels and lodges and establishing laundry services.
The establishment of rural community tourism destinations, or hubs, providing visitors with established gateways to various unique community experiences and authentic tourism experiences was also highlighted as a way for communities to share in the tourism sector pie.
“In many traditional communities, there are annual cultural festivals which are accompanied by fun traditional and cultural activities that include songs and dances. We ought to take full advantage of these and upscale them to yield high-level beneficiation,” said Van Rooyen.
The department said it would continue to support all efforts to reflect and engage on the current state of transformation in the tourism sector that will promote its advancement and local economic development. – SAnews.gov.za