By – SAnews.gov.za
Pretoria – South Africa has joined global tourism leaders in adopting the Antalya Declaration to create more jobs and strengthen skills development in the tourism sector.
Tourism Minister Derek Hanekom on Wednesday attended a meeting of T20 countries in Antalya, Turkey, where the declaration was adopted unanimously.
The T20 group represents the tourism ministers from G20 countries, which include some of the world’s strongest economies.
“This declaration will consolidate our efforts to sustain employment and improve training in tourism. I am particularly pleased that it refers specifically to measures to enhance gender equality, to promote the value of small enterprises, and to create more jobs for the youth in the tourism sector.
“This is in line with the Department of Tourism’s strategies to address these key challenges in our country,” said Minister Hanekom.
According to the declaration, tourism accounts for about 10% of the world’s Gross Domestic Product, it is one of the fastest growing and most resilient economic activities, and plays a major role in international trade. Forecasts indicate that global tourism is expected to grow further, with international tourist arrivals reaching 1.8 billion in the next 15 years.
The declaration acknowledged that tourism supports robust and inclusive growth and creates jobs within the sector and in the diverse value chain, which includes agriculture, construction, handicrafts, financial services and communication technology. Tourism is estimated to account for one in 11 jobs in the world.
The T20 members agreed to enhance research on tourism employment and to identify skills needed in the sector. This will allow countries to develop policies that promote decent jobs, entrepreneurship, gender equality and employment for the youth.
The declaration commits the T20 countries to promote stronger links between their private sectors, public sectors and education institutions to address the gap between training needs and market requirements. It also encourages increased investment in education and training in tourism.
Minister Hanekom said the department has already started to implement some of the strategies detailed in the declaration.
“For example, we are conducting a study to establish the needs of small enterprises, which will help us to develop supportive programmes that match their needs.
“Our overall skills audit is taking place in consultation with the private sector, and links between the private and public sector are getting stronger. We are also determined to make the sector more environmentally sustainable and to create more green jobs.
“A project within our Tourism Incentives Program deals specifically with retrofitting establishments with renewable energy,” the Minister said.
Signing the declaration has reaffirmed that South Africa is on the right track, adding that they will now accelerate their efforts to achieve the aims of the declaration which the 20 countries have agreed to.