The ambition of the South African government is to double international tourist arrivals to 21 million by 2030, said President Cyril Ramaphosa at last night’s State of the Nation Address.

Tshifhiwa Tshivhengwa, CEO of TBCSA, told Tourism Update that the 21 million international arrivals is a figure based on research that TBCSA presented to the President earlier this year.

The President said that achieving this goal will be done through a renewal of the country’s brand, the introduction of a world class visa regime, and a significant focus on key markets that can boost South Africa’s tourism. These markets include China and India, as well as the rest of Africa.

Thsifiwa added that the TBCSA are with the President on these inititiatives, but stressed the importance of swift action from all spheres of government to make them a reality.

He added that these inititiatives must not just be spoken about, but must be implemented with urgency, especially where visas are concerned. “We want to see bold steps taken when it comes to the finalisation of our evisas. This issue must not become something that is spoken about, but something that is finalised quickly.”

Ramaphosa also stressed that government is determined to make sure that tourists visiting the country are safe. Thsifiwa agreed, saying that safety is a continuous effort, and that he hopes the President will engage with the Minister of Police to ensure that tourist safety becomes a priority, as it is elsewhere in the world.

Thsifiwa concluded by saying that in a country with high unemployment, and in need of job creation, the tourism sector be a saviour. “The President was right to call Tourism a productive sector, and we hope that all of government sees it as such.”