Tourism Minister Marthinus van Schalkwyk has encouraged the country’s youth to take advantage of the job creation potential presented by tourism and cultural products.
Talking at World Tourism Day celebrations organised at the Basotho Cultural Village just outside Qwaqwa in the Free State, Van Schalkwyk said that the government was willing to support the youth by equipping all of them with business skills geared towards the tourism industry.
Free State MEC for Economic Development, Tourism and Environmental Affairs Mxolisi Dukwana stated that the provincial government was doing everything in its power to boost culture and tourism.
Echoing precisely the same feelings as the minister, he explained that young adults are advised to become involved in tourism. He said that it is a valid reason for the youth to promote and preserve their cultures, as they are a crucial attraction factor for tourists to South Africa.
“Our culture is what defines us as a nation and as a country.”
World Tourism Day is celebrated annually on 27 September. Its purpose is to create awareness among the international community of the incredible importance of tourism along with its social, cultural, political and economic value.
The 2011 theme, Tourism: Linking Cultures, is a celebration of tourism’s role in linking together the cultures all over the world by way of travel.
The event attempts to address global challenges outlined in the UN Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) and to emphasize the contribution the tourism sector can make in reaching these goals.
World Tourism Day 2011 will also highlight the importance of preserving and promoting the cultures of the world in all their forms.
Free State resident Madibakeso Tshabalala, who arrived at the event clad in Basotho traditional attire, said she was proud of her culture and wanted young people to follow in her footsteps. “Our kids must know about our culture and be proud of it.”
Van Schalkwyk said in 2010, 29.7 million domestic trips were taken, compared with 30.3 million taken in 2009.
He said the first quarter of 2011 showed a positive growth of 7.5% in domestic trips. South Africa prides itself on its heritage sites, which appeals to a large number of foreign tourists.
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