The South African government will continue backing sporting codes bidding to host international events and tournaments, Deputy Sport Minister Gert Oosthuizen said on Wednesday.

This was an attempt to boost sport tourism to the country, he told a sport and events tourism exchange conference in Durban.

South Africa needed to be more proactive in holding sporting events, said Oosthuizen.

While the country had been recognised for the major events it had hosted, such as the rugby and soccer world cups, government “will consider a mechanism to assist smaller sports to bid for events and to host those events”.

Smaller or lesser known sport codes, such as angling, often needed little infrastructure input from government, but generated tourism revenue.

In 2003, it was estimated that less than one percent of tourists visited the country because of sport.

Oosthuizen said this figure had surged in recent years to about 10 percent and was responsible for an estimated R6 billion ($718 million) in revenue annually.

“We need to use sport as a means of attracting foreign tourists to South Africa. Sport tourism is not yet reaching its full potential in South Africa.”

Oosthuizen said the country needed to position itself as a winter training destination for northern hemisphere athletes.

Source: jacarandafm.com

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