South Africa has been elected as the Africa representative to the executive council of the United Nations World Tourism Organisation (UNWTO) at the organisation's 8th annual assembly in October 2009.
"Our election follows an absence of ten years from the Executive Council. During this four-year term, South Africa will use its position to advance Africas development agenda and the objectives of the New Partnership for Africas Development (NEPAD).
We will also actively work towards the realisation of the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), because we, as an African country, regardtourism as pivotal to unlocking greater economic growth, infrastructure development, trade promotion and job creation on our continent," says South Africa's minister of tourism, Marthinus van Schalkwyk.
He was addressing the 8th annual tourism conference which took place in Johannesburg on October 30, 2009.
In Kazakhstan, the ministerial representatives from the G20 countries also met to discuss tourisms contribution to the economic stimuli required for the recovery of the global economy. South Africas will host a first meeting of the G20 tourism ministers from 22 to 24 February 2010 in Gauteng under the theme Travel and tourism: Stimuli for G20 economies.
As the new UNWTO Roadmap for Recovery report adopted in Kazakhstan highlights, there is growing evidence that tourism and travel could make a valuable contribution to the process of global economic recovery, which will include amongst others rebuilding consumer confidence, stimulating source markets and, in the longer term, supporting the transition to a greener economy.
The new UNWTO Roadmap to Recovery recognises the fact that tourism is one of the world's top job creators (providing 75 million direct jobs worldwide) and that it drives the viability of many small and medium enterprises.
Tourism provides fast entry into the workforce, particularly for youth and women in urban and rural communities,and it is a lead export sector, comprising 30% of the worlds export services, and up to 45% of the total service exports of developing countries.
I am very pleased that South Africa will be able to play a meaningful role in the process to discuss and develop global strategies to meet the challenges of the global economic downturn, and to seize the opportunities of the global economic recovery.