Minister: SA can be travel hub

2012-11-01 16:27

Cape Town - South Africa is perfectly situated to become a major travel hub for the southern hemisphere, Tourism Minister Marthinus van Schalkwyk said on Thursday.

"There is a major opportunity to establish ourselves as a hub for south, south travel... we are perfectly situated to be that hub... we're in the middle of the corridor," he told the Cape Town Press Club.

The minister used a map of global flight traffic to prove his point, which showed moving planes as bright yellow dots.

Huge yellow clusters could be seen spraying over North America and spreading out from Europe. Smaller clusters could be seen over India and China.

The southern hemisphere had less air space presence, with smaller yellow clumps concentrated over parts of South America, Sub-Saharan Africa and Australia.

The minister said the United Kingdom continued to be the country's largest tourism market, with over 215 000 people visiting our shores in the first six months of this year.

The United States and Germany were the next biggest markets.

In emerging tourism markets, there was an 88.4% jump in visitors from China in the first half of this year. In the same period, 68.3% more Brazilians visited the country.

Despite increased spending on these emerging markets, the spending on traditional markets was bigger and would remain so for many years still, the minister said.

Van Schalkwyk was questioned whether there was still a need for national carrier SA Airways (SAA) from a tourism perspective.

"The answer to that, probably, is many countries don't need a national carrier but in my view, South Africa as a long-haul destination needs a national carrier."

He emphasised the need was for a well-capitalised and well-managed SAA.

The carrier had, earlier this year, requested a cash injection of R4 billion to R6 billion for recapitalisation.

"We gave, as Cabinet, a very clear mandate to SAA and that is they must start cutting their losses, that they must manage themselves better and make sure that it's not a drag on the taxpayer."

The minister welcomed healthy competition in the sector. The number of airlines flying in and out of the country had increased from around 26 to over 50 since the implementation of the airlift strategy in 2006. This strategy sought to increase flight growth and capacity over five years.

"Better competition, more competition, driving down prices, more choice, that's what we want."

  • vaughan.lund - 2012-11-01 16:39

    Hmmm, considering we have an airports company that charges some of the highest airport taxes in the world, not sure how this would work out.

  • gerald.majola.7 - 2012-11-01 16:44

    ya it could of been, but then you went and supported SAA to CANCEL its London route Kortbroek

  • thabani.dube.988 - 2012-11-01 17:11

    Yep, travel hub for Nigerians and Pakistanis of course.

  • alf.pop - 2012-11-01 17:23

    Where does Kortbroek get his figures from? Hotel occupancy has dropped, but we have an increase in tourists visiting the country. Do they stay in Nkandla/Zumaville as guests of our president? Wake up Kortbroek and stop talking cr.p!

  • johnwilliam.roberts - 2012-11-01 17:25

    yes come here get raped murdered ,and robbed , welcome to south africa gagsters paradise forget the swim suit bring bullet proof jackets and razor wire to surround your tent . a hub for eastern european gangsters and zimbabwe trash and whoever wants to come here what a country .

  • themba.thwala.98 - 2012-11-01 19:23

    Sure Kortbroekie, talk any hogwash so that you can be reappointed as a Minister and continue to enjoy perks being on the gravy train taking our country to the pits

  • eagarcia3 - 2012-11-01 21:07

    Maybe, for South Americans: Geography helps, and so should do an increase in the business volume between South America, Africa and Asia. Besides, security (19 of the top 20 most dangerous cities in the world are in America) and infrastructure (Brazilian airports are way worse than any airport in SA) issues are not as shocking for us as they are for Europeans, we're more used to something similar. South Africa, as a country, doesn't have its peers in Africa or Europe. They are across the pond, and speak Spanish or Portuguese.

  • Mandy Casey - 2012-11-02 00:03

    All those Chinese "visitors" have not left. Go to any small town anywhere in ZA and you will find them.

      eagarcia3 - 2012-11-02 06:46

      Chinese were brought by the British to this country near the Boer Wars era, brought as semi-skilled workers for the mines, and as an attempt of competition and a supplement to the Afrikaner workforce.

  • blip.noodlum - 2012-11-02 05:31

    SA is one of the last countries who still quote hotel rates on an archaic per-person-per-night basis rather than per-room-per-night.

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