Address by President Nelson Mandela at the launch of the new Blue Train

26 September 1997

Minister for Public Enterprises;
Premier of Gauteng Province;
Mayors of Pretoria and its sub-structures;
Honoured guests;

It is a great honour to be among so many people here to see us all off on this special journey.

The new Blue Train is important to us for several reasons.

As a democracy we are now fully part of the international economy. This new train shows that South Africa takes seriously the challenges of the world market; and in particular that it is ready to meet the exacting standards of quality and service required in the highly competitive market of luxury rail travel.

Spoornet assures me this is the best Blue Train ever, and that it is ahead of the competition. I am looking forward, today and tomorrow, to putting their assurance to the test.

We have great hopes for the contribution which the train can make to the important tourism sector. Though we have seen a major increase in foreign tourists coming to visit us, we cannot rest content with what has been achieved so far. Tourism's contribution to our economy could be doubled at least from its present 4.5 per cent and it has the potential to create hundreds of thousands of jobs.

Government, the private sector and our communities are working together to realise this potential. The Blue Train is a part of the plan to boost sustainable tourism in South Africa. It has great potential to become one of the flagships of this growing industry.

Those who come to South Africa to ride the Blue Train will also want to experience the other attractions of our beautiful land - our game parks, our beaches, our forests and parks.

Nor should we forget that the Blue Train will also go to the spectacular Victoria Falls and Hwange in Zimbabwe, helping both our countries to get the most out of their immense tourist potential. This is a fine example of how linking the strengths of neighbouring countries brings mutual benefits. It is a real contribution to the development of Southern African tourism.

Apart from looking forward to a pleasurable trip to Cape Town, it is a special delight to be part of this launch journey because, thanks to all of you, the Nelson Mandela Children's Fund will benefit from it. As you know, the fund and the opportunities it creates for disadvantaged children, is very dear to my heart.

I should like to thank you for honouring us with your presence on this trip, especially those of you who have to this initiative. By associating yourselves with it, you are making yourselves partners in the reconstruction and development of our country.

Your are affirming the great attractions that South Africa offers across its length and breadth. You are cementing the links among our cities and dorpies, and in particular Pretoria and Cape Town, as partners in a national effort to make South Africa the land of our dreams.

It is with pride and delight that I now officially launch the new Blue Train.

Issued by: Office of the President

Source: South African Government Information Website