Discover the connection between science and tourism as the Department of Science and Technology launches its annual National Science Week under the theme "Advancing science tourism". The theme, in recognition of the United Nation's International Year of Sustainable Tourism for Development, will explore the country's numerous scientific attractions.

The Minister of Science and Technology, Naledi Pandor, will launch National Science Week 2017 at the Nelson Mandela University Missionvale campus in Port Elizabeth.

The university has planned an array of exciting pre-launch events that explores the theme. If you are in Port Elizabeth, you will be able to take a virtual tour of CERN, the European Organisation for Nuclear Research, and find more about the Large Hadron Collider, or get a hitchhikers guide to the universe. You can find out more about climate change and how it will affect South Africa, or join in a discussion about science and diversity issues.

A fun run has been organised to kick-start the annual science, technology and innovation extravaganza on 29 July. There will be stops along the way for physiological tests.  At the end of the fun run there will be an interactive talk as the public, human physiologists, health professionals and students tour the human body, looking at the physiological and chemical changes people's bodies underwent during the run.

These are only some of the many activities the university has planned under topics such as discoveries at the frontiers of science, ocean science, Earth stewardship, diversity and inclusion in science, indigenous knowledge systems, the history of science and the human body. For more details go to www.mandela.ac.za.

Science and tourism are already connected, and this year we can show off the connection and strengthen the bond between the two. Over 15 million foreign travellers arrived in South Africa in 2015 for adventures, cultural experiences, and to take in the sights. With science, scientific initiative and innovation, we can hope to improve and secure the tourism industry.

Science advances tourism

Each passing year sees innovations in the transportation of people and ideas. Faster and bigger planes and trains increase the accessibility of the beautiful African landscapes; faster and smarter devices allow visitors to find new places and hidden places in their own cities. They can share their experience with many others across the world in an instant. What technologies will we see in the future?

Tourism advances science

Tourist attractions involve and advance science.  There is the chemistry of the winemaking process, the physics of skydiving and the biological and environmental sciences linked to nature reserves.  Advances in medicines, vaccines and antibiotics allow us to travel to places that were originally high-risk zones. Without malaria prevention medications, Kruger National Park would receive fewer visitors. In this way, tourism has also pressured science to find solutions to problems facing the industry. What is the next barrier to travel and adventure that science needs to remove?

Science is a tourist attraction

The cultivation and care of plants and animals brings visitors to botanical gardens and zoos.  Science centres around the country create new and exciting places to visit. The research around the human genome and interest in the history of humanity brings people to see the Cradle of Humankind. What scientific discovery will be next to inspire new visitors?

Let's showcase what South Africa can offer the world through science and celebrate the possibilities that science creates. Get involved this year's NSW activities.

The South African Agency for Science and Technology Advancement (SAASTA) has been appointed by the DST to coordinate the countrywide celebration of science, involving numerous players in science, technology, engineering, mathematics innovation.  About 100 regional and national exhibitors are expected to showcase their products and initiatives and engage with participants. See the daily schedule of events at www.saasta.ac.za