Minister of Tourism Tokozile Xasa. Picture: TSHEKO KABASIA
Minister of Tourism Tokozile Xasa. Picture: TSHEKO KABASIA

Cabinet has approved the coastal and marine tourism implementation plan, which will the Department of Tourism will spearhead.

Tourism Minister Tokozile Xasa said in a statement on Friday that the aim was "to grow a world-class and sustainable coastal and marine tourism destination that leverages SA’s competitive advantage in nature, culture, and heritage".

"The coastal and marine tourism sector will contribute about R21.4bn to the GDP and create about 116,000 direct jobs by 2026. These estimates are conservative as they are growing off a low 2015 base of a R11.9bn direct contribution to GDP and 64,400 direct jobs," Xasa said.

The coastal and marine tourism plan would prioritise destinations rather than individual tourism projects or products. In the first five years the focus will be on the following geographic areas: Durban and surrounds (KwaZulu-Natal); Umkhanyakude District including Umhlabuyalingana and surrounds (KwaZulu-Natal); Port St Johns to Coffee Bay (Eastern Cape); East London, Port Elizabeth and surrounds (Eastern Cape); Cape Town and surrounds (Western Cape); and West Coast and surrounds (Northern Cape).

Initiatives in all of these nodes will be concentrated on marketing, events and routes; regulations and permits; research and spatial planning; beach precinct development, tourism infrastructure and tourism safety; maritime tourism; and skills development.

"Over the last year, three initiatives, namely blue flag beaches programme, boat-based whale watching, shark-cage diving and off-road vehicle 4x4 beach driving have commenced. These initiatives will continue to be taken forward in the first phase implementation plan," Department of Tourism acting chief director of communication Susan de Bruin said.

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