On International Tourist Guide Day, the Department of Tourism extended their well-wishes to all the tourist guides of South Africa.
In a recent Tweet, the department said that it is ultimately an important day where countries come together to recognise the crucial role played by tourist guides in the sector.
“Tourist guides are encouraged to continue with their outstanding work as destination ambassadors as we grow the tourism sector together – your efforts are definitely valued and appreciated,” the department stated further.
About International Tourist Guide Day
International Tourist Guide Day is held on 21 February each year. Celebrations were held for the first time in 1990 by the World Federation of Tourist Guide Associations (Wftga) at which time only 15 countries around the world participated and jointly celebrated this special day.
Launching The Leonardo
Over the years, awareness about this day has grown and to date, more than 70 countries celebrate this event worldwide.
In South Africa, this day is celebrated with activities and programmes ranging from presentations, motivational talks, excursions, and workshops.
In fact, to celebrate the day, the Minister of Tourism Nkhensani Kubayi-Ngubane and singer Yvonne Chaka Chaka went throught The Leonardo – Africa’s tallest skyscraper in Sandton, Johannesburg – for what is believed to be its official launch.
‘Tourism is everyone’s business’
On PowerFM, the minister went on to say that ‘tourism is everyone’s business’ and the sector is working tirelessly to support entrepreneurs. She previoulsy also said that attracting more international visitors into the country is key to promoting South Africa. It is for this reason that the tourism department has been working closely with Home Affairs to relax travel laws.
“We are working side by side, hand in hand to ensure that we are able to have many of our tourists coming in,” Kubayi-Ngubane said at a previous event.
“We have made sure that in terms of work, in addition to lowering the turnaround times for the visa applications, we have ensured that we have an electronic visa application system that Home Affairs is currently piloting,” added the minister.
“We do not deserve tourists, we compete for them.”
A hopeful prospect
Last year a report from Statistics South Africa showed a negative trend in the tourism sector. It stated that the overall number of visitors to South Africa in the first financial quarter of the year, normally one of the most popular times to visit the country, fell by 3%.
The biggest decline was from the Middle East, which fell by a shocking 19.4%.
The most concerning dip, though, was that of the number of tourists from Europe, a traditional stronghold of South African tourism, which dropped by 8.5%.
The regions that boasted increases in visitors were Asia (up by just 0.8%), North America (up 1.4%), countries in east and central Africa (up 4%), while tourists from North Africa saw a massive boost of 13.6%.
The biggest concern however is that the numbers for Q1 2019 aren’t just worse than 12 months before, they are lower than 2017’s numbers.