It is a clear indication of how seriously President Cyril Ramaphosa takes the role of the tourism sector in driving growth and creating jobs by acknowledging and tackling the issue of tourism safety and security in his State of the Nation Address 2020 (SONA) last night.

This was the consensus from two industry leaders – Deputy Minister of Tourism, Fish Mahlalela and CEO of the Tourism Business Council of South Africa, Tshifhiwa Tshivhengwa – who spoke to Tourism Update early this morning.

“President Ramaphosa showed South Africa and the world that barriers to tourism growth are a high-level government priority and that the safety of tourists was therefore also a major priority,” said Mahlalela.

He specifically welcomed the increased visibility of the South African Police Service at identified tourism sites as well as the training of Tourism Safety Monitors who will be absorbed into the SAPS as reservists.

During his speech, Ramaphosa highlighted that, following the graduation of 5 000 police trainees last year, 7 000 new police trainees had been enlisted this year to strengthen local policing.

“To improve the quality of general and specialised SAPS investigations, we are establishing a Crime Detection University in Hammanskraal,” added the President.

Tshivhengwa pointed out that he got a “clear sense” from this and other references to growth and jobs creation – along with addressing the energy crisis as well as safety issues – that tourism was “front and centre” of the president’s speech.

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Click HERE to read the full SONA speech.