The country’s tourism industry has showed significant growth over the years, producing world class industry players which has seen top of the range facilities establishing here, earning the country a 5th spot in rankings in the Southern Africa region and 20th spot in the whole continent. This was revealed by the Minister of Tourism and Environmental Affairs Moses Vilakati during the Tekuvakasha Tourism Awards which were held at The George Hotel on Friday evening. Eswatini’s tourism sector has been a pivotal player in the economy and the government has fully supported all structures that seek to champion the industry, which include the Eswatini Tourism Association (ETA) and the Hotels Association of Swaziland (HOTAS). Vilakati said it was the ministry’s aim to be in the top three in Southern Africa and be in the top 10 in the continent at large. “The tourism sector can serve as a strong pillar of growth for countries of all economic stripes, but sometimes struggles to be taken seriously as an economic engine. Many an economy has been built off the back of the tourism sector and it is a massive global generator of income and jobs. But despite that it sometimes struggles to be taken seriously as an economic engine.” “The industry is really very competitive and requires a lot of innovation from all stakeholders. We will continue to work hard as a country to increase the tourist numbers in the kingdom and we would like to challenge the Tourism Authority
to turn around the industry and to come up with a three-year realistic plan,” said Vilakati. On the same vein, the Prime Minister who was represented by his Deputy Themba Masuku said as His Majesty’s government they were fully behind the Ministry of Tourism and all other relevant industry players in improving the tourism industry in the country. He said government was aware that tourism could unleash vast opportunities that could play a very important role in driving the economic diversification of the country. He made an example of successful economies such as Singapore, who have realized significant growth in their GDPO through cost effective turnaround strategies in the tourism sector. “It is against this background that we have identified tourism as one of the lynchpins
of our national economic development strategy driven by a strong and effective public and private sector partnership and robust policy that promote job creation, and wealth generation,” said the Premier.
SIX COMPANIES SPONSOR TEKUVASHA AWARDS
The recently celebrated third Tekuvasha Awards saw massive sponsorship from six companies. Three of these are based in the Republic of South Africa, while the other three are from kingdom. The local companies are Eswatini Television, Swazi Observer and Touch IT, while the South African companies are Ankerdata Hospitality
Systems, Limo Networking and NEDtex Africa Consulting. This was revealed by the Eswatini Tourism Authority (ETA) Board chairperson Nomsa Mabila during the awards ceremony. “These companies have been able to put together a sponsorship package of over E500 000 and their effort is really commendable considering that for the past two years
government has only been able to have a budget of about E180 000 annually,” she said. Mabila added that this year prizes were made to be business-focused and the prize value in most cases was quadrupled. She raised hope that there would be other companies who would like to partner with them in coming years as they seek to grow the sector.
Meanwhile, Hotels Tourism Association of Swaziland President Mark Ward said a strong hospitality industry was one of the key components to building a successful tourism industry. He said the future looked bright for the tourism
industry and it would certainly seem that hospitality would be enjoying its fair share of the growth. He concluded by highlighting some of the challenges that were faced by the industry in the country, saying there were issues of infrastructure that must also be addressed, skills shortages across the entire sector, training, signage and border congestion.