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Slowdown in world economy hits tourism

By Staff Writer

From Business Day 

Sibongakonke Shoba

SA Tourism CEO Moeketsi Mosola said exchange rates, the problems being
experienced by the US economy and the escalating fuel price made conditions
difficult for the industry.

"The escalating oil prices affect tourism directly," Mosola told delegates at
the opening of the Indaba 2008 at the weekend.

The Indaba is Africa's biggest travel and tourism event. This year, it
attracted about 15000 delegates from all over the world who have the
opportunity to see new products, network and sign deals.

Tony Read, an exhibitor who was promoting Hout Bay as a tourist destination,
said such conditions made things difficult for tourism stakeholders in SA.

He said hotels had been forced to increase prices as the costs of food and
petrol had gone up.

"It is affecting the industry badly. An Australian told us that the same
(travelling) package in Cape Town, including a night at a five-star hotel,
could be found in Australia at half the price," Read said.

The industry also faced other problems, Mosola said, including crime, a
skills shortage, slow implementation of the aviation policy and lack of
transformation.

"Crime is a challenge we need to face for the good of the industry and SA.
I call on government and our people to develop a strategy that would create
a safe travel and tourism environment."

Ethekwini municipality mayor Obed Mlaba said Durban was proud to host the
Indaba as it provided a platform for sharing information, which was crucial
for developing nations.

He said tourism could be used as one of the strategies to fight poverty in
Africa.

KwaZulu-Natal premier S'bu Ndebele said tourism contributed about R18bn
(about 10%) to the provincial economy and that a number of projects were in
place to increase tourism's contribution to the economy. These included the
new King Shaka International Airport and the Dube trade port.

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