Cruise tourism a lucrative niche marketNovember 26th, 2010 by H&R | Categories: government, hotels, industry, tourism
Strategies for the development of niche tourism products, such as cruise ship tourism, are important elements of the comprehensive plan to position tourism as one of the six key sectors of economic growth in South Africa, says Minister of Tourism Marthinus van Schalkwyk. He launched the report on cruise tourism in South Africa on the MSC Sinfonia in the Durban harbour this morning.
The Minister says cruise tourism was one of the areas identified for further investigation and a study had been commissioned. The project was conducted under the stewardship of a National Steering Committee, which represented those involved in the cruise industry in port cities and provinces, the National Department of Public Enterprises, the National Ports Authority and Transnet.
“The development of cruise tourism as a niche market would further enhance South Africa’s reputation as a world class and globally competitive tourism destination. The global cruise tourism industry has experienced significant growth over the last three decades, expanding from 1.4-million passenger carryings in 1980 to an estimated 15.4-million by 2009,” he notes.
Van Schalkwyk provided the following findings of the report:
“The latest tourist arrival figures show that South Africa has continued to outperform competitors and that our tourism sector has proved resilient against fairly poor global economic conditions.
“The figures for tourist arrivals show that from January to August this year our tourist arrivals were more than 5.2-million (5 286 003), which is an increase of 17.4% compared to the first eight months of 2009.
“We experienced growth from all our major market regions, with increases in arrivals of 11% from Europe, 25.1% from North America, 159.4% from Central and South America, 23.4% from Australasia, 37.4% from Asia, 21.8% from the Middle East and 13.6% from the rest of the African continent.
“The important role tourism has to play in economic growth and job creation has again been emphasised by the fact that it is now one of the six key growth pillars of the country.
“We know tourism is an important driver of both domestic consumer spending and foreign exchange earnings. It is underpinned by a sustainable resource base, labour intensive activities and relatively low barriers of entry for entrepreneurs. Tourism has now been prioritised as one of the cornerstones of growth in the economy.
“The National Department of Tourism will help position the tourism sector in such a manner that its economic benefits become a reality to all South Africans. In this regard we are exploring various avenues to ensure that we increase our global competitiveness and one of these is the identification and further development of niche markets.
“The NDT will continue to engage with the industry as well as other government departments and entities on how to address constraints, facilitate passenger transit, encourage cruise passengers to visit port cities and the surrounding areas and ultimately increase economic opportunities for communities in and around coastal cities.
“In terms of the development of this sector it is our responsibility as government to market destination South Africa, to ensure service excellence and facilitate the provision of infrastructure. The responsibility does not, however, rest with government alone. We also need buy-in from the private sector and in this case particularly the cruise line industry in support of our economic development goals.
“We will therefore work very closely with the cruise line industry to ensure that packages and excursions are developed and that passengers are encouraged to visit our shores, enjoy what we have on offer and inspire other travellers to also visit South Africa,” says van Schalkwyk said.
The full report will be available on the National Department of Tourism’s website.