Hon House Chair, firstly, allow me to congratulate the Chairperson of our portfolio committee for the initiative in hosting this important workshop. It is exactly this type of co-ordination and crosspollination that is lacking and is needed within tourism so that we can do it better. Secondly, the national Department of Tourism and the portfolio committee absolutely understand that tourism is an economic driver and job creator. However, departments such as the Police do not understand this, and here exactly lies the problem. Police treats tourism and the safety of tourists as a safety issue. The paradigm needs to shift to understand that policing of tourists and tourism is actually an economic driver and not just a safety issue.
Countries that have high number of tourists consistently year after year are able to sustain these numbers because government departments treat tourists as an economic driver or of the department ... [Inaudible.] ... When more people are employed, the economy grows, and in turn, then this impact positively on crime because it drops the budget allocation, for example, to these departments also grows. It is clear that the number one challenge confronting South Africans is to grow our economy and to create jobs. We all need to rally behind solving this challenge. This means positioning ourselves wherever we are to address this. This is my challenge to the police. They need to change the way that they see crime and deal with it.
As I stated in the House yesterday, the latest data released by Statistics SA confirms that tourism is not growing, in fact, is regressing. The number one reason for this is safety and security concerns.
The statistics confirms that international tourists coming to our shores have reduced. Focus countries like China have reduced by 10%. Countries that traditionally we have enjoyed a great high number of tourists like Germany have reduced by 6,5%, and cumulatively
tourists from Africa have reduced by 1,4%. These figures are a concern. We need to be more aggressive to change this around.
Co-ordination between different departments is a starting point. The first ball was kicked by our committee Chairperson and with this workshop. Let's make this a trend. I propose that another joint workshop be held, the next one possibly being with the Home Affairs to address the visa issue. Such co- ordination will ensure that the past opportunities that we have lost are not repeating in future. Activities such as the Rugby World Cup victory this weekend should be capitalised on and piggy-banked on by tourism. We should be telling the world about South Africa today, while South Africa is on their lips throughout the world - tomorrow maybe too late.
Keeping South Africa on the world's mind now would reverse any negative perceptions that would exist and would start increasing the number of tourists to our shores. This would have a knock-on effect on growing our economy and also creating jobs. Let's challenge all these departments to start thinking differently about tourism and, in this way, creating jobs and growing our economy. Thank you very much. [Applause.]