The conference followed the United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development, Rio+20.
The Deputy Minister for Tourism in South Africa, Tokozile Xasa, outlined South Africa's vision for the future and measures which will build on the country's leading position as a pioneer of Responsible Tourism. These include government policy and practical frameworks which have direct benefits for tourism and local communities:
• A new, comprehensive, National Strategy for Responsible Tourism in South Africa is to be issued, which contains action plans to guide implementation and mechanisms to measure progress. The strategy promotes working more closely with the tourism sector to maximise the local economic benefits which tourism can bring to local communities and already has the support and endorsement of a growing cross-section of stakeholders.
• The new National Tourism Sector Strategy (NTSS 2011), launched in March 2011 - a blueprint for the tourism sector in South Africa - sets a new vision and growth targets, including making South Africa one of the top 20 destinations by 2020, committing the tourism sector to create a total of 225 000 jobs in 2020 and to increase tourism's contribution to the economy from R189,4 billion (2009) to R499 billion by 2020. The new NTSS boldly recognises that these ambitious growth targets should be achieved in a responsible and sustainable manner, appreciative of the fact that South Africa's natural environment and people are its greatest tourism resources.
• The new Tourism Draft Bill aims to provide for the development and promotion of sustainable tourism for the social, economic and environmental benefit of South African citizens and for the enjoyment of all its residents and foreign visitors.
In addition the Deputy Minister highlighted the importance tourism has in wider policy, and the impact therefore of Responsible Tourism across the board.
• Tourism is an integral component of South Africa's New Growth Path (2010), which strives to significantly reduce unemployment and stimulate inclusive economic development.
• South Africa's Industrial Policy Action Plan (IPAP2), has identified the tourism sector as an important contributor to the development of rural areas and culture industries amongst others.
As well as setting out current and developing Government policy the Deputy Minister also called for action from all areas of the industry: