NEW private sector partnerships have been entered into "to boost" domestic tourism, Tourism Minister Marthinus van Schalkwyk says.
Van Schalkwyk made the announcement in Newtown yesterday at the launch of September as Tourism Month.
"I am pleased to announce that we have entered into a number of additional partnerships with the private sector as part of our Sho't Left campaign," he said.
The campaign, which focuses on encouraging South Africans "to explore" their own country, has proven to be a success, he said.
"Our new partners, the Peermont group, Flight Centre and Computicket Travel, will help make domestic travel exciting, accessible and affordable to more South Africans," Van Schalkwyk said.
They join tourism's existing partners, which include kulula.com, Southern Sun and Thompsons Tours.
"By travelling at home South Africans contribute meaningfully to the tourism industry and its competitiveness.
"They also contribute to local economic growth and job creation," the minister said.
Tourism Month, he said, was an important initiative in the drive to encourage South Africans to travel domestically because domestic tourism was more important than ever.
"Domestic and regional tourism is the backbone of a sustainable and robust tourism industry," Van Schalkwyk said.
The minister said domestic tourists accounted for 77percent of all tourists in South Africa last year.
Between 2006 and 2008, domestic tourists on average accounted for 79,6percent of all tourists in South Africa.
"Domestic tourism is ... less volatile than foreign arrivals and offers the South African economy a steady and reliable income stream," Van Schalkwyk said.
The minister also launched the roll-out of Sho't Left's billboard campaign to motivate South Africans to travel domestically.
The 10 billboards, worth more than R2million, would be placed in Gauteng because this was the province with the greatest source market for domestic tourists, he said.
"We are less than 300 days from World Cup 2010 and now is the time for all of us to contribute in every way we can to ensure we offer the world an unmatched experience in our fantastic country," the minister said.
Last year more than 9million foreign visitors arrived in the country - while 14 million South Africans undertook trips around the country.
The World Cup is expected to draw about 450000 fans to South Africa, which will take the total number of visitors in 2010 to more than 10 million. - Sapa