SA minister to head UN tourism venture

3 June 2013

South Africa’s Tourism Minister Marthinus van Schalkwyk has been selected to lead a new United Nations World Tourism Organisation commission on tourism and development, the department announced last week.

The working group will examine how to leverage official development assistance (ODA) resources available globally towards tourism development.

Members include France, Germany, Kenya, Jamaica, Egypt, Mexico, South Korea, Mauritania and Belgium’s Flemish community.

“I believe it will be possible to unlock meaningful new financial resources to further our work in the tourism sector by dramatically scaling up our share of official development assistance,” Van Schalkwyk said at the UN World Tourism Organisation meeting in Belgrade, Serbia last Tuesday.

He also identified four priority areas of the working group.

They are identifying the reasons why ODA allocation to tourism is low; identifying priorities the development community will find attractive for sustainable tourism development; develop proposals to build on the group’s relationship with donor countries, development banks and UN agencies; and design a matchmaking mechanism to link bilateral donor support to ODA-eligible tourism projects.

“There is a sweet spot at the intersection of the three policy imperatives of tourism development, social inclusion and green growth that we have been ignoring to our detriment and that could hold the key to substantial new resources,” Van Schalkwyk said.

The group will also look at building good governance in tourism, fostering the poverty reduction impact of tourism and encouraging human resources development in the sector.

“As a sector, we have a major task ahead of us to convince the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) development assistance committee, the World Bank, regional development banks, developed country donors and other United Nations agencies of our sector’s important contribution to poverty eradication, the green economy and the achievement of the Millennium Development Goals,” he said.

SAinfo reporter