Aviation, tourism sectors join forces to grow economy

07 March 2018 | Web Article Number: ME20188927

Transport & Logistics

THE travel trade, airlines, airports and other government tourism and aviation agencies have committed themselves to work together to ensure that air passenger experience to and from South Africa and the African Continent is seamless and satisfying.

Collaboration and unblocking hurdles to growth and competitiveness was the common thread in various panel discussions by executives from both tourism and aviation industries during the Board of Airline Representatives of South Africa (BARSA) Aviation Summit 2018 held recently in Johannesburg.

The event was attended by the Minister of Energy Jeff Radebe, formerly the Minister in the Presidency responsible for Planning, Monitoring and Evaluation; Minister of Tourism, Derek Hanekom; Deputy Minister of Transport, Sindisiwe Chikunga; senior BARSA management and several key executives from aviation and tourism sectors.

The summit covered several topics aimed at finding ways of breaking down policy barriers that inhibit industry development and economic growth; whilst encouraging competition.

Delegates looked into collaborative ways of achieving economic growth and renewal; in the main, the insights gained from the discussions were intended to create a platform for a blueprint for air transport and tourism value chain collaboration in South Africa and in the continent.

Addressing delegates, Hanekom declared his commitment to making travel easier by announcing that he was already in talks with other government colleagues to tackle restrictive visa requirements more robustly, including the issue of unabridged birth certificates and the possibility of introducing e-visas. He also stated the importance of how each touchpoint on a traveller’s journey; from touchdown to take off needs to be of exceptional quality in order to encourage even more visitors.

In his keynote address, Minister Radebe acknowledged that, “The aviation and tourism industries are some of the most vital areas in our efforts to increase trade, investment and economic growth”.

 Referring to the National Development Plan (NDP), he noted how an integrated approach to growing the transport industry has been specifically highlighted as a key area set to improve the economy, create jobs and increase trade.

“As the two industries have an inextricably symbiotic relationship it is clear that air transport in particular is critical for driving tourism growth and in turn greater numbers of tourists will open up opportunities for even more routes to be serviced on the continent,” Radebe said.

“We want to walk this journey hand in hand with you to ensure that you run an efficient industry. It is a long journey, but we will reach our common destiny if we walk together. Let us epitomise the popular saying that, ‘If you want to walk fast, walk alone. If you want to walk far, walk together”.

Chikunga concurred, adding that implementing the Open Skies policy on the continent was crucial to achieving this and to also making South Africa an even bigger hub and access point into Africa. She said there is a need to make air travel even more affordable and to also promote the aviation industry more as a career option.

“There is no doubt in my mind that the time for implementation of the Open Skies policy is now. We must do this if we are to realise stronger public and private sector alignment in both the tourism and aviation industries. This will in turn create much need jobs and grow the economy. World class service to all our passengers – whether on the ground or in the air, is not an option but a must,” the Deputy Minister said.

From the summit will stem a much-needed blueprint for collaboration between the two industries with clear, measurable targets and prescribed action points for various stakeholders in both government and the private sector.

June Crawford, Chief Executive Officer of BARSA said, “this summit wasn’t merely a talk shop. BARSA will ensure accountability of all involved and regularly update industry stakeholders and the citizenry on progress made towards aligning our actions and closer collaboration”.

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