In line with South Africa’s National Imbizo Focus Week, Deputy Minister of Tourism, Elizabeth Thabethe, interacted with the community of Mabopane in Gauteng, at the Mabopane Indoor Sports Hall on Monday (November 12). Thabethe called on the youth of South Africa who are interested in the tourism sector to approach her department for more information and for assistance in establishing their own businesses.

Addressing the local community of Mabopane, north of Tshwane, on the first day of National Imbizo Fortnight of Activism, Thabethe said tourism played a crucial role in job creation.

“South Africa is one of the most beautiful countries in the world. People all over the world want to come to South Africa for many reasons. During the World Cup, we showed the world who we are and people loved our country,” said the Deputy Minister.

“In tourism, we always want to get people to visit South Africa. People love our country, they love our wines and they love our food,” she said.

Thabethe called on young people to come up with programmes that spoke to other young people in terms of job creation.

She said government cared about young people. “As government, we listen. Whatever you do, do it to the best of your ability and encourage other young people to get involved in the tourism sector.”

She expressed concern about young people, who go to tertiary institutions or universities to study in courses where there are few job opportunities. “Our country needs young people who have the relevant, scarce skills. Chefs are scarce and the department is always willing to assist young people who want to venture into tourism or to become chefs,” she said.

The National Imbizo Focus Week, also known as the Fortnight of Activism as pronounced by Cabinet on October 24, is scheduled to take place from November 12 to 25, focusing on issues of national importance and public priority. The week seeks to ignite social partnerships and contribute positively to government endeavours, including initiatives aimed at good governance, improved internal staff, and external and stakeholder morale, as well as public confidence in efforts aimed at reigniting the economy, creating jobs and building a prosperous society that all can benefit from.

At the backdrop of the National Imbizo Focus Week are the centenary celebrations of struggle stalwarts, Albertina Sisulu and former President, Nelson Mandela. In his welcoming remarks, the MMC for Economic Development, Randall Williams, reiterated the United Nations World Tourism Organisation sentiments on tourism being one of the world’s largest generators of jobs and a powerful driver of the socio-economic growth and sustainable development.

“In an effort to ensure that tourism yields the benefits it has the potential to deliver, we as the city are recognising our Tourism Division to focus on the sectors we believe can yield more positive results. We will be focusing our efforts on domestic tourism, business tourism and sports and events tourism,” said Williams.

In her address, the Deputy Minister encouraged those in attendance to take up the opportunities put in place by government in assisting communities to develop economically.

“As the Department of Tourism, we have numerous programmes that seek to empower our people, mainly women and the youth in developing and sustaining their businesses. Our department is also passionate about providing skills to unemployed youth, as a measure of addressing the scourge of unemployment in our country,” commented Thabethe.

The week also focuses on tourism and its value chain, targeting a total of 500 participants that include youth and women in tourism, entrepreneurs and aspiring tourism practitioners. The programme also saw officials from the department making presentations on the various programmes that are currently in place and how citizens can access them. These included enterprise development, skills development as well as the Tourism Incentive Programme.