South African President H.E. Jacob Zuma has praised the scenic beauty of Uganda, affirming that indeed the small East African nation deserves to be called the Pearl of Africa.
Zuma was Tuesday delivering his keynote address at the opening ceremony of the 2017 Tourism Indaba running from 16th-18th May 2017 in Durban South Africa.
Hon. Prof. Ephraim Kamuntu, the Ugandan minister of Tourism Wildlife & Antiquities, Mrs Doreen Katusiime, Permanent Secretary Ministry Tourism, Mr Julius Kivuna, Acting High Commissioner Uganda High Commission, were present at the event.
In his opening remarks, H.E President Zuma reiterated the tremendous role of tourism in boosting and sustaining not only the South African economy but all economies on the African continent singling out Uganda for the transformation tourism has played in boosting the economy.
“Africa has long been regarded as the world’s Eden. The time has come to bring the world home, to the cradle of humankind, Africa,” he said.
President Zuma specifically highlighted the “scenic beauty of Uganda” describing it as indeed the “Pearl of Africa with the majestic Lake Victoria climaxing the beauty of this East African country”.
The South African department of tourism said Indaba is Africa’s top travel show – more than 7000 delegates from all over the world attend this show.
In his speech, Zuma said the start of Indaba was “wonderful way to celebrate Africa Month, by hosting all of you as we showcase the beauty of our country and of the African continent”.
He welcomed dignitaries to the vibrant city of Durban, to the spectacular scenery and warm beaches of KwaZulu-Natal, and to the cultural melting pot of South Africa.
Earlier this month, he hosted Heads of State and Government and global captains of industry and commerce in this same venue, for the World Economic Forum on Africa, which was another wonderful marketing opportunity for the African continent.
This week Durban once more brings Africa and the world together, in this home-grown trade show where Africa markets herself to the world with 21 African countries exhibiting their diverse cultures at this year’s Travel Indaba.
Zuma said in addition to job creation, tourism also provides opportunities for entrepreneurship and makes it possible for new entrants particularly women and the youth to get into business.
Africa enjoyed an eight percent increase in international tourist arrivals to reach 58 million arrivals. This means that Africa is growing at twice the rate of the global average.
“It is indeed most encouraging that more and more world travellers are discovering our continent. It means they see its value as an exceptional destination for holidays and business events,” Zuma said.
He called this era, the fourth industrial revolution that may threaten traditional jobs; saying tourism’s labour absorption capacity remains a greater weapon against unemployment.
“Whilst we pursue the increase in global Africa inbound travel market share, we also encourage and promote travel within Africa. Africans must explore their continent as well.”
He added: “Indeed, tourism activities extend into every corner of our country, into cities and rural areas, into townships, into our mountains, our forests and our coastline.”
The total contribution of tourism to the South African economy in 2015 was about three hundred and seventy-five billion rand supporting over 1.5 million jobs in total, and “we want tourism to support over 2.2 million jobs by 2026”.
Zuma said he is ready to work in partnership with our sister countries on the continent, and with our partners in the tourism industry, to make Africa a destination of choice for the world and promote the beautiful continent.
“At the African Union level, Africa is investing in infrastructure development projects that will help us to promote economic development, including tourism development.”