Outgoing South African tourism minister says sector is 'engine for economic development'

Tokozile Xasa uses her swansong speech at Meetings Africa 2018 to highlight importance of tourism for job creation.

The outgoing South African minister for tourism spoke about the sector as an "engine for economic development" for the region as she opened Meetings Africa 2018 with her swansong speech.

Before taking up her new role as minister for sport, Ms Toko Xasa used her final address to launch the event, which she described as the "primary platform" for Africa's business events professionals.

The minister said that the tourism sector is crucial for South Africa and the continent as she set out the government's ambitious goals to double job creation through foreign exchange earnings.

Xasa said: "The pan-African business events trade show has been in existence for 12 years, sitting alongside a growing Africa as a sought-after premier business events destination.

"Meetings Africa serves as a primary platform for Africa's business events professionals, to showcase their diverse services and product offerings to global buyers and create partnership opportunities with African associations to help transform and contribute towards the continent's economic growth."

The show welcomed 3,000 delegates, reflecting the fact that the business tourism market generates 252,000 direct and indirect jobs per annum and contributes R115bn (£7.1bn) to the South African economy.

"President Ramaphosa is indeed correct that the tourism sector is an engine for economic development through foreign exchange earnings and the creation of direct and indirect employment," Xasa added. 

"It is, therefore, no surprise that the tourism sector has been mandated to double its efforts by creating an additional 700,000 jobs."

One of the themes of Meetings Africa 2018 is using shared economies as a tool to boost and stimulate collaborative African growth.

"By collaborating with like-minded individuals and enterprises, we as Africans can conjure great innovations, bring about economies of scale and transform people's lives, positively and sustainably," the minister said.

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