South African Tourism Minister, Patricia de Lille, says the BRICS partnership is enough reason for Tourism Ministers and countries to come together and work in collaboration to grow their sectors and economies.
De Lille made the remarks during the opening session of the BRICS (Brazil, Russia, India, China, and South Africa) Tourism Ministers meeting which took place in Cape Town on Tuesday.
Held under the theme: “Sustainable and inclusive tourism recovery“, the meeting builds on South Africa’s 2023 BRICS Summit in August under the theme: “BRICS and Africa: Partnership for Mutually Accelerated Growth, Sustainable Development and Inclusive Multilateralism“.
De Lille noted that in the Summit Declaration, BRICS Heads of State acknowledged the urgent need for tourism industry recovery and the importance of increasing mutual tourist flows.
“We are here today to agree on a way forward and action plan. The BRICS Tourism Ministers Meeting will exchange information and experiences in our tourism sectors.
“It is also an opportunity for BRICS Members to reach a consensus on key policy priorities for a more just and sustainable tourism recovery. We do so because we know that poverty, unemployment and inequality are the biggest problems the world faces,” said the South African minister.
According to the United Nations World Tourism Organisation (UNWTO), international arrivals could reach 80% to 95% of pre-pandemic levels in 2023.
In South Africa, the tourism sector has risen from January to August 2023, with a total of 5.5 million international tourists arriving in the country, signifying a remarkable 70.6% surge compared to the same period in 2022, the UNWTO figures indicated.
While this resurgence is encouraging, the Minister acknowledged that these figures still lag behind the pre-pandemic levels of 2019, by a 19.0% shortfall.
However, she said the figures are encouraging, noting that within the 5.5 million arrivals, “the African region has the biggest share.”
The Minister further stated that tourism can be an engine for economic growth in the country, and added that it is a key part of South Africa’s Economic Reconstruction and Recovery Plan.