JOHANNESBURG, June 26 (Xinhua) -- Tourism has the potential to improve the country's economic performance and the people's livelihoods, said Sisa Ntshona, CEO of South African Tourism on Monday.
In an interview with Xinhua at the sidelines of Hotel Show Africa in Johannesburg, Ntshona said they are now aggressively trying to improve domestic and international tourism and reap maximum benefits.
The government wants to encourage people to have a culture of traveling and also pursue aggressive marketing outside the country. Ntshona said they want 54 million South Africans to be the country' ambassador and speak positively about the country when they meet foreigners.
"We are clear about what we want to achieve as a country as stated in the National Development Plan. Tourism last year contributed about 9 percent to the GDP and we want to double digits growth. We want to grow the number of international travel in the next five years from the current 10 million to 14 million," he said.
"We want to increase our global share which stands at around one percent of international travelers. We want to educate South Africans about the importance and impact of tourism. When tourism does better, the country's economy will do better and the people's lives would be better too," said Ntshona.
South African Tourism would like to see new places in the sector with new and unique ideas and not using "cut and paste". Tourism role players should be consistent in providing quality service to ensure that tourists visit again, he added.
"Young tour guides have to be trained and know how to sell the country. We are also training tour guides international languages like Mandarin, Russian and German languages. We have trained some and will continue doing that to ensure that our visitors are addressed in the language they are comfortable with," said Ntshona.
The Tourism Deputy Minister Elizabeth Thabethe said journalist should be responsible and patriotic in their reporting. She said they should report to sell the country and not always focus on negative issues.
The 3-day Hotel Show Africa, which opened on Sunday, showcases products, equipment and services for restaurants, cafes, bars, hotels.