Minister of Tourism Ms Patricia de Lille;
Deputy Minister of Tourism; Mr Fish Mahlalela;
Minister of Tourism of Zimbabwe ; Mr Nqobizitha Mangaliso
Minister of Tourism of Democratic Republic of Congo ; Mr Mazenga Mukanzu Didier
Minister of Culture and Tourism of Mozambique ; Ms Edelvina Materula
Minister of Tourism of Eswatini; Mr Moses Vilakati
Minister of Tourism of Zambia ; Mr Rodney Sikumba
Minister of Tourism of Botswana; Ms Philda Nani Kereng
Minister of Tourism of Malawi ; Ms Vera Kamtukule
Minister of Culture and Tourism of Mozambique; Ms Eldevina Materula
Deputy Minister of Tourism of Namibia ; Ms Heather Sibungo
Leader of Government Business, in KwaZulu-Natal MEC for Economic Development Tourism and Environmental Affairs; Mr Siboniso Duma;
Ambassador-at-Large for ASIA and BRICS His Excellency; Prof. Anil Sooklal;
AU Commission Responsible for Economic Development, Trade, Tourism Industry and Minerals His Excellency; Ambassador Albert Mudenda Muchanga;
Your Excellencies, High Commissioners and Ambassadors;
Directors General and Senior Management;
Acting Chairperson of SA Tourism Mr Tim Harris and Members of your Board;
Acting CEO of SA Tourism, Ms Nomasonto Ndlovu and all CEOs present;
Esteemed Panellists and Guests;
Members of the Media;
Distinguished Ladies and Gentlemen;
It is a great honour for me to stand before this esteemed gathering of tourism industry professionals, eminent experts from the sector, government leaders and representatives of the diplomatic Corps, to welcome all of you to our beautiful province of KwaZulu-Natal.
AFRICA RISING - FROM THE OAU, THE AU AND BRICS
Painting a picture of the Africa we are, in all its splendour and glory, American author Jodi Picoult says, and I quote:
“You marvel at the tripod of a giraffe bent to water. There are iridescent blues on the wings of birds that you do not see anywhere else in nature. In Africa, in the midday heat, you can see blisters in the atmosphere. When you are in Africa, you feel primordial, rocked in the cradle of the world. In Africa you see the sunset and believe you have witnessed the Hand of God”.
Ladies and Gentlemen as Picoult reminds us, one of the tasks of this Tourism Dialogue is to remember our past not to glorify it but to remind ourselves that in Africa we have what the world wants.
It is to use the uniqueness of our land to grow our economies and to address the challenges of unemployment, poverty and inequality as we bring all our people along.
This is a significant gathering underpinned by the fact that the African Agenda 2063 in line with 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development recognises Tourism as a priority sector, and as an avenue for inclusive growth and sustainable development. Appropriately, the theme for this gathering is “Sustainable Tourism Development”, and it reflects our practical appreciation of the potential that Tourism has in growing Africa’s economies.
The First Ten-Year Implementation Plan (FTYIP) of Agenda 2063 set targets for tourism to increase its contribution to the Gross Domestic Product of our continent, and to double intra-Africa tourism.
Ladies and Gentlemen allow me to invoke the spirit of our late iconic statesman Tata Nelson Mandela who taught us that “it all seems impossible until it is done”.
Our forebears met in Addis Ababa in May 1963 to launch the Organisation for African Unity and conceived the values of the unification of Africa through regional blocs, economic regeneration and positioning intra-African trade as the cornerstone for economic emancipation.
It all seemed impossible, yet fast forward to 60 years later under the African Union that was launched here in Durban we celebrate Africa Month of May witnessing this very dream come true. Over the period Africa’s image has changed from what Time Magazine once called the “Dark Continent”, to what the same publication now gleefully describes as a “Rising Continent”.
Writing a few years ago about Africa’s prospects Ibi Ajayi, a Professor of Economics at the University of Ibadan, Nigeria says, and I quote: “Africa must anchor its growth prospects in the development of human capital, physical infrastructure, and strong institutions. It must foster the development of the private sector and the macroeconomic environment needed for the private sector to be viable”.
Distinguished Guests, we thus begin this edition of Africa’s Travel Indaba full of hope, optimism and renewed belief, anchored on the realization that Africa is finding its voice, Africa is rising. As the founding fathers and mothers of our continent envisaged, as a collective we are now rejecting the colonial mentality that conditioned us to see ourselves as individual countries with inward looking policies.
We see ourselves as a united Africa that can produce for itself and benefit from a combined market of 1 point 2 billion people (1.2 billion) where our rural and township traders, producers and crafters can trade their goods and services.
Just over a decade ago, it never occurred to us that one day Africa’s interests would be deliberately advanced at the table of global leading nations, not as an afterthought, but as the main agenda item. Today, through South Africa assuming the Chairship of the BRICS nations, Africa‘s voice will permeate a total of 3 point 27 billion (3.27 billion) people or 44.4 percent of the world’s population. That is a significant market for our products, goods and services and extends Africa’s sphere of influence and a focus of global attention.
Africa’s Travel Indaba is the very catalytic theatre of ideas and meaningful conversations about access to markets, business-2-business marketing and global connections that Africa requires to sustain its growth.
OUR CONDOLENCES TO THE DRC, CALLING FOR ADAPTION TO CLIMATE CHANGE
We take this opportunity to welcome you to a KwaZulu-Natal that just over a year ago was hit by massive floods which left 455 people dead and 4 700 displaced. Despite the heavy battering our province is back on its feet thanks to the resilience of our people and the assuring support of you our friends on our continent and abroad.
In this regard may we also take this opportunity to convey our condolences to the people of the Democratic Republic of Congo especially those in South Kivu province who have lost hundreds of people in the ongoing flood disaster in that country. Our prayers are with the families, the victims and the government of the DRC at this time.
KZN RISING FROM THE FLOODS
Here in KwaZulu-Natal we have also issued a Level 2 warning and placed all our emergency teams on standby as the province is being battered by heavy and disruptive rains. We have already dispatched our teams to parts of the province we consider vulnerable including rural areas in order to minimise the impact on people and property.
What this tells us is that the continent needs to take seriously the impact of Climate Change on our economies and to respond by adopting climate-change resilient social and economic infrastructure, and to seriously engage with this reality in all aspects of our planning. We are particularly called upon to consider this impact on our Tourism offering.
I thus stand in front of you today proud of the resilience of our economy here in KwaZulu-Natal particularly of industries like tourism. I therefore have no doubt that as we rise again as a province, the pace of our recovery will be speeded up by the tourism sector which holds infinite potential for KwaZulu-Natal.
As we conclude we can state without fear that in KwaZulu-Natal we embody the indestructible spirit of Africa’s people here and in the Diaspora. This is home to the indigenous communities and those from afar who have chosen these shores as their home.
As Michelle Obama reminds us when she says: “You may not always have a comfortable life and you will not always be able to solve all of the world’s problems at once, but don’t ever underestimate the importance you can have because history has shown us that courage can be contagious and hope can take on a life of its own.”
Ladies and Gentlemen, on behalf of the people of KwaZulu-Natal with these few words I welcome all of you to our beautiful Province. Enjoy your stay. Usually we say WOZANI our Kingdom calls, but because you are here already, we say KZN has it All, Believe it. Go check out our vibrant city nightlife, the melting pot of diverse cultures, the meandering mountains of Ukhahlamba, play with the dolphins to the south and you may even catch the sardine run.
Enjoy the sea, the sun, our township. Go say hello to the Mandela Capture site and see where history was made, when Madiba was arrested and later went to spend 27 years of incarceration.
Let Africa Rise. Let Africa Shine Again.
I Thank You