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By Lunga Simelane

Journalist


‘Not enough political will’ to unlock the economic potential of SA’s oceans

Operation Phakisa could contribute up to R177 billion to the gross domestic product by 2033 and between 800 000 and one million direct jobs.


Operating in South Africa for almost 30 years now, MSC Cruises SA is introducing a new ship to both Durban and Cape Town.

Starting this November, the officially named MSC Splendida will sail across the Indian and South Atlantic Oceans. Splendida is a step up from normal cruise liners and is able to accommodate over 4 000 guests. MSC transported 108 000 passengers this past season, from November last year to April this year.

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MSC Cruises managing director Ross Volk said cruise holidays were incredibly high value for money spent. Volk said in terms of inflationary pressure on households, a three- or four-night cruise holiday was well within the reach of many South Africans.

Cruising ‘not expensive’

“A message that we need to get out there is that cruising is not expensive. And it is not the bastion of the super wealthy or the old,” he said.

MSC revealed that Splendida will bring MSC Yacht Club to the country or the first time. Located on the prestigious foredecks, MSC Yacht Club is a luxurious ship-within-a-ship, with 71 spacious suites with its own concierge reception, 24-hour butler service, private top sail lounge, pool deck and bar.

Innocentia Motau, director of MSC Cargo, the largest cargo carrier in the world, said the plan to unlock the oceans’ economy, “Operation Phakisa”, was going at a very slow pace.

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This is an initiative by the SA government focusing on unlocking the economic potential of South Africa’s oceans. It’s projected that this could contribute up to R177 billion to the gross domestic product by 2033 and between 800 000 and one million direct jobs.

Motau said: “These economies are obviously marine transport – the one I am in. There is cargo but marine, tourism, fisheries, aquaculture, oil and gas.

“But there is not enough political will to make it work and leadership at the top keep on changing milestones,” she said.

“But while I can say to each player that it is a beautiful concept and it is a doable concept, we just need to put our hands, money and skin into the game so it can actually work out.”

SA ‘bouncing back’

As SA tries to recover after the Covid pandemic and three years on from hard lockdown restrictions, chief executive of the Tourism Business Council of South Africa Tshifhiwa Tshivhengwa said the pandemic exploded in an unimaginable way, with harsh regulations.

But what had occurred post-Covid revealed the country was bouncing back.

“We may not yet be at the level of 2019, but the way we are bouncing back is different to what we anticipated,” he said.

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Tshivhengwa said the tourism recovery strategy plan being implemented needed to be revised in order to move from recovery to prosperity. He said the numbers presently reflecting growth between February and March showed more than 9% growth.

“But if you look at last year March compared to this year, you are looking at around 83% growth. And if you look at the different countries in terms of inbound tourism, you can see that there is growth,” Tshivhengwa said.

“From our numbers, we see there is still a long way to get back to 2019 figures, looking at the three top markets from international inbound.

“We’re still far out and hopefully towards the end of this year, we’re going to be closer to those figures of 2019.”

– lungas@citizen.co.za

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