Travel documents challenge facing tourism industry

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Travel documents for leisure tourists have been raised as one of the main challenges at the Annual World Tourism Conference in Johannesburg. Stakeholders gathered to tackle issues affecting growth in this sector.

South Africa remains the leader on the continent. However, much more needs to be done to boost rural and township tourism.

Mfanafuthi Sibiya is not a newcomer in the industry but after running a guesthouse for thirteen years, he is still battling.

Partnerships with recreational operators are however paying off. Sibiya says small players need more support. ” The thing that I sometimes wish is that we have tourism forums even if it is quarterly sessions because I believe that our peculiarities do require specific attention and sometimes we get lost in the scope that is quite wild.”

Tourism Industry giants gathered at the conference to share the same voice of strengthening economic growth and job creation.

Although South Africa has the largest tourism economy in Africa, the challenges are as equal, according to Independent Tourism Hospitality’s Gillian Saunders.

“A huge number of countries in the world have online visa systems where you do biometrics on arrival and those have a very fast turnaround time. Australia, for instance, gives most Chinese a two day turnaround time..we need to move towards that system but in the interim it will be nice to see our visa system improve and it will also be nicer to see more countries getting visa wavers,’ says Saunders.

Poaching has also become a threat to the South African Tourism but young women have put their lives at risk to protect the pride of Africa. ” In South Africa we get more opportunities to work from tourism, if we continue losing wild animals, our next generation will struggle. So that’s why we put our lives on the line to speak for the animals and to fight and protect the wild animals because we know the benefit,” says Black Mambas Anti-Poaching Unit’s Leitah Mkhabela.

The World Travel and Tourism Council has encouraged travel within the continent to boost growth. “If you look at the projections in 2030 with the largest youth population growing in the world, we can only imagine the growth in Africa that’s going to come from within Africa, and I think that we need to talk about tourism of Africans travelling to Africa,” says the organisation’s Jillian Blackbeard.

While the stakeholders are engaging with the governments to relax travel restrictions for tourists, they also called on travellers to adhere to the necessary processes to avoid disappointments.

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