SA wants to go big on cruise tourism
Tourism Minister Marthinus van Schalkwyk says South Africa plans to go big on developing cruise tourism.
"We need to grow this industry which has a huge potential of creating jobs and to grow the economy," he said during the launch of the Cruise Tourism Report on the luxurious passenger ship, MSC Sinfonia in Durban Harbour.
Van Schalkwyk said the cruise industry had huge potential and stressed that government needed to invest in this industry to make it possible for it to grow.
"When I came here, I expected a modern passenger terminal. There is a lot of work to do. All spheres of government need to work together to ensure that there is investment," he said.
He said government wanted to make sure that South Africans were participants in the cruise industry through the job opportunities that could be created and also by operating cruise liners.
Speaking during the launch, KwaZulu-Natal tourism MEC Mike Mabuyakhulu said the province saw the cruise industry as lucrative.
"One of the major coups we have pulled off is to engage the organisers of the Sea Trade to convene a Sea Trade Africa workshop in Durban," he said.
The workshop would see leading executives of the major cruise liners invited to expose them to the cruise potential of East Africa and the Indian Ocean Island, he said.
"We have developed a strategy and an action plan to develop cruise tourism potential of our province and the rest of the East Coast of Africa," he said.
KwaZulu-Natal was an active member of the Cruise Indian Ocean Association and also part of the secretariat of the cruise body.
"The conference will hear from cruise line experts on what they want to see from Africa as a destination in terms of terminal operations, infrastructure and hospitality," he said.
The issue of off shore excursions and regulatory environment as well as the region's own potential as a source market for cruise passengers would be discussed during the workshop, he said.
"Today's launch of the cruise tourism report therefore signals a clear commitment from the government to ensure that cruise tourism becomes one of the key pillars of the tourism industry," said Mabuyakhulu.
In the basket of tourism products, cruise tourism was like a newly discovered star which needed to be fully exploited, Mabuyakhulu said.
Van Schalkwyk said the development of cruise tourism as a niche market would enhance South Africa's reputation as a world class tourism destination.
"The global cruise tourism industry has experienced significant growth over the last three decades, expanding from 1.4 million passengers in 1980 to the estimated 15.4 million by 2009," he said.