Deputy President Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka says tourism is a priority sector for South Africa as it is well placed for economic growth and for the creation of jobs.
Speaking at the official launch of the School of Tourism and Hospitality (STH) at the University of Johannesburg, Mlambo-Ngcuka said that as tourism was about local and foreign visitors, South Africans should be trained in foreign languages so that tourists need not bring interpreters but can take interpreters from the pool the country has developed.
"There needs to be a balance between high quality service, customer care, and the attitude of those who serve you together with the facilities the establishment offers in order create an unforgettable experience for the tourist", she said.
Launched today, the STH will be housed in a state of the art building named the Kerzner Building in honour of the support given by Mr Sol Kerzner who is chairperson of Kerzner International Limited.
Constructed at a cost of approximately R47 million, the school is one of the first custom-built building for tourism and hospitality in the country.
Among other facilities, the school has various ultra-modern kitchens, two restaurants, lecture rooms with modern facilities, computer laboratories, a bar, a wine cellar and a 150-seater auditorium.
The motivation behind the school is to develop restauranteurs and hospitality 'high-flyers'.
Echoing the Deputy President's sentiments Mr Kerzner said the school was committed to achieving the highest possible standards of education and training that will ensure the students walk away with the skill of making people feel really welcome.
He added that South Africa is blessed with a great climate, natural heritage, and great cities that can really make South Africa the tourist destination.
Mr Kerzner in his personal capacity and Kerzner International limited granted an amount of R20 million towards the construction of the STH.
In addition to providing financial support to the STH project, Mr Kerzner and Kerzner International Limited are dedicated to assisting the school to link up with the prestigious New York School of Hospitality Management and other international-training institutions in order to help the school to benchmark itself against the best tourism and hospitality education in the world.
The new school is at the Auckland Park Campus of the University of Johannesburg - the merged Technikon Witwatersrand (TWR) and the Rand Afrikaans University (RAU) an is the fruit of a partnership between the former TWR and Mr Kerzner and Kerzner International Limited. The school also received financial contributions from other donors in the industry.
By Tumelo Modisane - BuaNews