Rail Infrastructure Transforms Sustainable Tourism In South Africa

Last year, travel and tourism contributed almost half a trillion rand to South Africa’s economy and generated 8.6% of all the economic activity in the country. This is according to an annual review by the World Travel and Tourism Council¹.

During the State of the Nation Address in June 2019, President Cyril Ramaphosa recognised the potential of tourism sector which acts as a catalyst to job creation as well as economic growth and announced a bold new plan to double international tourist arrivals by 2030.

Key to this plan was upgrading and expanding the country’s rail network.

“We want a South Africa that has prioritised its rail networks, and is producing high-speed trains connecting our megacities and the remotest areas of our country,” the President said, “We should imagine a country where bullet trains pass through Johannesburg as they travel from here (Cape Town) to Musina, and they stop in Buffalo City on their way from eThekwini back here (Cape Town)”.

Transport is an essential component of tourism and rail – an eco-friendly, fuel efficient and cost-effective way to move millions every day safely across the country. For the past century, transportation has fueled the world’s economy. In recent decades, road and air have dominated many nations’ transportation investments to the detriment of the most sustainable solution to mass transit – rail. For the planet’s economic and environmental health, it is time to restore the balance between road, air and rail.

Rail is considered a significant engine of inclusive growth and development for South Africa, with the potential to contribute significantly to the Gross Domestic Products (GDP) of the country. Developed rail infrastructure will ensure that tourist and local South Africans can move from one place to another faster and safer, boosting tourism and trade. This will create new jobs, save energy and improve the environment, while moving people, raw materials and goods more efficiently nationwide.

Rail is the answer. Rail is the only sustainable solution of many of today’s environmental, social and economic challenges.

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