SOUTH Africa is truly the world in one coun­try. From Africa’s very edge at Cape Point to the ranges of the Drak­ens­berg that stretch into the heav­ens, to the won­ders of the wildlife that the coun­try is blessed with, do­mes­tic and in­ter­na­tional tourists alike praise the won­ders of what they find in South Africa.

Every day we re­ceive mes­sages from across the globe about the mar­vels that in­ter­na­tional vis­i­tors have ex­pe­ri­enced and how they want to come back for more.

It is also true that scores of

South Africans are yet to dis­cover the won­der that is South Africa.

Our coun­try boosts amaz­ing UN Ed­u­ca­tional, Sci­en­tific and Cul­tural Or­gan­i­sa­tion (Unesco)

World Her­itage sites that are just a stone’s throw away and, con­trary to per­cep­tions, are af­ford­able ex­pe­ri­ences.

In Kwazulu-natal alone, we have the ukhahlamba Drak­ens­berg moun­tain range, which will test any hik­ing abil­ity, with caves re­plete with bush­man paint­ings. The World Her­itage Site of Isi­man­gal­iso Wet­land Park, the beau­ti­ful blue flag beaches of the South Coast, the historic bat­tle­fields in­land and the rich cul­tural di­ver­sity of Dur­ban it­self.

The choices are vast with

South Africa’s nine her­itage sites, in­clud­ing the Bar­ber­ton Makhon­jwa Moun­tains in Mpumalanga, the Vre­de­fort Dome with a crater (di­am­e­ter of 190 km) in the Free

State Dome and the Cape Flo­ral Re­gion Pro­tected Ar­eas, among the rich­est in plant life world­wide, con­tain­ing nearly 20 per­cent of Africa’s to­tal flora.

Our clar­ion call to every South African is – be­come a tourist in your own coun­try, let us all do tourism.

The aim be­hind the #We­do­tourism move­ment is to give cit­i­zens a sense of ful­fil­ment, of trav­el­ling our coun­try and wel­com­ing the world to it.

The im­pact of tourism on the South African econ­omy is well ac­knowl­edged. Its con­tri­bu­tion to the to­tal South African gross do­mes­tic prod­uct stands at 9 per­cent. We can do bet­ter, and this can be nur­tured and ex­panded through do­mes­tic tourism. One has only to think about the jobs that tourism cre­ates to ap­pre­ci­ate the ef­fect of this sec­tor on the econ­omy to help the coun­try power it­self through the 21st cen­tury.

Re­cent re­search by the World Travel and Tourism Coun­cil (WTTC) has sug­gested that, by 2028, the num­ber of peo­ple em­ployed in tourism in South Africa could rise to 2.1 mil­lion.

Phindile Makwakwa is the act­ing chief ex­ec­u­tive of Tourism Kwazulu-natal

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