South Africa’s Marine and Coastal tourism strategy development gets into full swing

Pretoria: 13 April 2016

Operation Phakisa (Ocean Economy) Tourism Lab members are gathered in Johannesburg to thrash out the strategy to unlock the economic potential of the sector.IMG_0720

The formalization of development of a comprehensive marine tourism and leisure subsector strategy for South Africa as part of the Operation Phakisa (Ocean Economy) campaign formally got underway in Gauteng this week, where participants from across public and private sectors and related will sit in three groups through the process for about five weeks.

The three groups of the Marine and Coastal Tourism Lab of Operation Phakisa (Ocean Economy) – numbering between 15-20 people each – gathered in Johannesburg on Sunday and began work earnestly on Monday.

The Marine Tourism and Coastal Lab of the Operation Phakisa (Ocean Economy) campaign is one of five such other labs that have been operational since launch of the campaign by President Jacob Zuma in Durban on October 15, 2014.

IMG_1075

At launch, according to President Zuma, Operation Phakisa (Ocean Economy) is in line with the goals outlined in the National Development Plan, to promote economic growth and to boost job creation.

The campaign, pursued jointly between the public and private sector as well as higher education and research institutions, was launched with an economic growth target of five percent per annum by 2019.

South Africa is surrounded by a vast ocean and yet we have not fully taken advantage

According to President Zuma, the basis for pursuit for development and full integration of the country’s maritime economic sector into the general economy was that inherently, South Africa is a maritime country.

“Our starting point,” he said: “was that South Africa is surrounded by a vast ocean and yet we have not fully taken advantage of the immense potential of this untapped resource. The oceans have the potential to contribute up to R177-billion rand to the Gross Domestic Product and create just over one million jobs by 2033.”

IMG_0902Marine tourism meanwhile, ranks among the top four sub sectors of the country’s maritime economic sector projected for phenomenal growth in the next two decades.

It contributed R19-billion to the country’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP) in 2013, with projections currently indicating yields as high as R44-billion in 2020 and rising rapidly to R134-billion in 2033, generating between 800 000 and 1-million jobs.

The 2013 projections reflect on marine tourism as likely to be the second largest subsector contributor to South Africa’s GDP by 2033, after marine transport and manufacturing, followed by oil and gas as well as construction.

SAMSA rejoices at the elevation of marine tourism also as an important initial aspect of Operation Phakisa (Ocean Economy)

A South African Maritime Safety Authority (SAMSA) preliminary study conducted in the last three years found that the marine tourism and leisure subsector was extremely diverse, covering a wide range of marine assets and tourism, recreational and leisure pursuits.IMG_0709 (2)

SAMSA in essence kick-started the process of developing an enabling environment towards development of a comprehensive marine tourism and leisure sector strategy that would dovetail for integration into the country’s tourism development programs. As part of the initiative, a year ago the organisation together with private sector partners, launched the country’s first national Ocean Festival held at the Cape Waterfront in Cape Town.

Sitting in Johannesburg from this week, the Marine and Coastal Tourism lab is anticipated to expand greatly on the work already done by SAMSA towards a fully integrated strategy for the country, both coastal and inland.

Reacting to the start of the marine tourism lab, the organisation this week expressed excitement over the development. “We are very excited as this will unveil some of the plans and ensure coherent approach to  addressing problems that are inhibiting us to reach our true potential of being a marine and coastal tourism destination and be counted among the best in the world,” said SAMSA in brief statement.

Operation Phakisa (Ocean Economy) delivery labs are described as designed to “create transparency, debottleneck and help resolve the most critical challenges facing a sector, and hence achieve key milestones faster than in a “business as usual” context.”

“The main goal of the labs will be to produce a highly detailed (3-feet level) and costed implementation plan, including solutions, detailed execution plans with responsible owners across organisations, timelines and targets,” said a statement.

It said the three labs for the Marine and Coastal Tourism subsector would run in parallel, each with 15-20 participants carefully selected from key stakeholder groups (across public, social, private sectors and academia).

“The invited cross-organisational team works full-time in one location for five weeks. The lab will have an open, collaborative, intense problem solving atmosphere, and will be supported by a team of facilitators.”

End

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