World Tourism Day is a United Nations designed day celebrated annually across the world to focus and advocate for the centrality and contribution of the tourism sector towards the attainment of the global development goals for sustainable development and the fight against poverty.
Speaking at the announcement of the Free State as the feature province for the 2021 national celebrations, Tharage stated that the choice of the Free State was well aligned with the adopted global theme of "tourism for inclusive growth".
"We could not have chosen a better host than this province as we navigate the economic and social wrath of the pandemic and importantly as we begin our voyage to recovery and rebuilding our sector to its acclaimed glory and development impact.
"The theme for this year is about tourism for all. And by all, it is about the rural women and the innovative youth, it is for the villages, towns and the less-visited part of our country.
"This theme is about the cultural diversity of our offerings and travel tastes of the millennials. Importantly, growth is about the broad-based benefits and support for small enterprises that continue to bear the brunt of the Covid-19 pandemic," said Tharage.
Accepting the offer to host, Free State MEC for economic development, small business development, environment and tourism, MEC Makale Mohale said that the province was honoured to host the celebration in 2021 in the aftermath of the pandemic.
"We have put together a programme for the month which will reflect the beauty and offerings of our province, but it is this programme that should make everyone want to visit our province," said Mohale.
“This is an opportunity to once again take an unwavering shot at radical transformation of the tourism sector. In the midst of adversity, we must ensure that our small businesses are resilient and agile where possible and start thinking of disruptive approaches in the SMME sector,” added Mohale.
The announcement also included the unveiling of the 2021 Sho’t Left Travel Week.
The travel week is a domestic campaign aimed at promoting cheaper and affordable travel, while providing product owners and tourism trade an opportunity to re-attract South Africans back into the culture of travelling.
"Through Sho’t Left Travel Week, which will commence from 6-12 September, we call upon South Africans to book these massively discounted packages, and use them for the next year," said Sthembiso Dlamini, Acting CEO of South African Tourism.
"It is a practical response to the challenge of affordability by many South Africans and an opportunity for travel operators and product owners to promote their offerings through our various platforms," added Dlamini.