The failure to implement land reform in South Africa could become a cause for concern for the tourism industry, says Tourism Minister Derek Hanekom.
He was speaking on the sidelines of the launch of the Graskop Gorge Lift Centre in Mpumalanga last week.
The centre is a new development in the industry, featuring a viewing lift that travels down the face of the gorge and is a first for Africa.
“Reform is challenging in any country and it is made up of components. If it is done successfully in South Africa, it is in everyone’s interest, including land owners,” Hanekom said.
“The tourism industry should definitely not be worried about land reform, they should be more worried about us not doing land reforms and the kind of grievance that it will leave with our people.”
He said if land reform was implemented well, it would not only have a positive impact on the tourism industry but on the economy as a whole.
“I know a lot of the discourse is about expropriation, but expropriation is only an instrument to help us achieve a more fundamental, far-reaching and comprehensive land reform programme,” said the minister.
Tourism Business Council SA interim chief executive Tshifhiwa Tshivhengwa said it was not surprising that some people shied away from the land expropriation discussion, especially in his industry.
Tshivhengwa said the tourism industry needed the details on how land reform and land expropriation would be implemented before they could take a stand on the matter.
David Frost, CEO of Southern Africa Tourism Services Association, said: “There are international tourists who will be dissuaded to travel to South Africa because of erroneous comments on and misperceptions about the land issue.
“As the private sector, we need to work together with government to craft a message that is informative and clear to mitigate this.”