The importance of South African tourism industry, particularly its role in economic growth, job creation, attracting foreign exchange and its capacity to grow SA’s GDP is vital.
In 2013 alone, for example, the number of persons employed in the tourism industry amounted to 4,5% of all employed persons in South Africa, providing jobs of all skill levels and in all areas of the country.
The tourism industry is also one of the most easily accessible industries for entrepreneurs.
Over the past 10 years, South Africa’s tourism industry has seen many ups and downs. The most recent changes and confusion around the visa regulations saw SA’s tourism figures drop an overall 6.8% in 2015.
Regardless of the drop, however, overall growth over the past 10 years is undeniable.
The latest Tourism Satellite Account for South Africa report, released in February 2016, provides an overview of tourism’s contribution and role in three spheres, namely employment, attracting foreign exchange and economic growth. The data released by StatsSA stretches over 10 years, from 2004 to 2014.
In terms of employment, in 2005, 475 664 individuals were directly employed in the tourism sector. In 2014, this number was raised by 205 153 to 680 817 individuals employed.
Comparable employment data from 2008 shows that tourism added more jobs to the economy than other industries such as trade, agriculture and manufacturing.
The following chart gives a clear comparison of which industries provided to most employment in 2014, compared to 2008. The tourism sector, as shown, provided 48 000 new jobs.
Of the total employed in South Africa, including both formal and informal sectors, 1 in 25 individuals work in the tourism sector. To be more precise, 4,5% of the total workforce were directly employed in the sector during 2014. This is an increase from the 3,8% recorded for 2005, StatsSA found.
When tourists enter SA, it’s a given they will spend money here, and attracting that foreign exchange through inbound tourism is an attractive goal for SA.
In 2014 alone, for example, the V&A Waterfront, SA’s most popular tourist attraction which attracts over 24 million visitors each year, contributed around R52 billion to South Africa’s GDP alone.