South Africa’s abundant natural resources and the variety of its cultures and local traditions gives it unique appeal as a tourism destination – truly offering a “World in One” to local and international tourists.
The tourism industry has the capacity to create various types of employment opportunities on a large scale – from the most specialised to the unskilled. It is labour intensive, has low barriers to entry for prospective entrepreneurs, it can contribute significantly to the economic potential of rural areas and has strong backward and forward linkages that create economic opportunities in the broader economy.
Current estimates indicate that the tourism sector contributes around R309 billion to the gross domestic product (GDP) – 11% of GDP. One in every eleven South Africans is involved in the tourism industry. Tourism employs more people than the mining and automotive industries, contributing around 10.3% to total employment in 2012. In 2012 more than 21.5 million domestic tourists spent around R100 billion, with international visitors spending R84 billion during their travels.
It is conservatively estimated that 1 new job opportunity is created for every 16.1 international tourist arrivals.
The tourism industry can therefore be a key contributor in delivering an Open Opportunity Society for All, to grow the economy, to create jobs and to promote social equity. By bringing South Africans from different backgrounds into contact and conversation with each other, tourism can also play an important role in reconciliation.
South Africa should be the number one tourism destination in Africa and one of the top 20 tourism destinations in the world.
The DA believes that South Africa’s attractiveness as a tourism destination, the competitiveness of our tourism industry and its potential as a vehicle for reconciliation can be boosted by:
- Establishing a macro-economic environment that is conducive to investment and growth;
- Encouraging greater involvement by entrepreneurs and prioritising tourism in support programmes for small business development;
- Supporting the tourism industry with research and information that can help them tailor their products and services to market demands;
- Putting in place the necessary transport and other infrastructure to connect visitors to tourism sites;
- Clarifying the roles of tourism industry stakeholders and maintaining platforms for constructive interaction; and
- Promoting tourism as a career choice and facilitating skills development to ensure that the industry has access to the human resources it needs to succeed.