Pretoria – The tourism sector is regarded as a booming industry for the South African economy in a climate where many other sectors are experiencing challenges, says Tourism deputy minister Tokozile Xasa.
“The sector is valued due to the fact that it has very few barriers to entry for new businesses, especially when compared to other industries such as mining,” said the deputy minister, speaking at the Tourism Trade Roadshow held in Indonesia on Thursday.
She said the tourism sector is less capital intensive than most others while also being more reliant on human capital.
“This means a huge potential for job creation,” she said.
Tourism, said the deputy minister, was big business and a very significant revenue stream for governments around the world.
“The World Travel and Tourism Council estimate that the sector contributed $7.6 trillion to the global economy in 2014, and supported 277 million jobs. This 10 percent contribution to global Gross Domestic Product (GDP) is a resource that cannot be overlooked.
“This is no different in South Africa. According to our national statistics agency, tourism made a direct contribution of R103.6 billion to the GDP in 2013, rising from R93.5 billion in 2012. Domestic visitors contributed 57 percent of total tourism spend in 2013, while international visitors contributed 43 perecnt,” said Xasa.
Xasa said the tourism industry employs 655 609 people directly and 1.5 million both directly and indirectly, meaning one in every ten jobs in South Africa is supported by tourism.
National Development Plan
She said the National Development Plan (NDP) prioritises small and medium enterprises as an important strategic driver of growth.
“Significant resources are being made available across a variety of departments to grow small businesses, stimulate a mindset of entrepreneurship and ease barriers to entry for our already enterprising South Africans.
“While we focus our efforts on the growth of small tourism businesses, we are also at the same time mindful of the law of supply and demand,” she said.
The consistent increase in tourism arrivals over the past few years is a testament to the success of a variety of initiatives from the side of government and in partnership with business.
The developing countries of South East Asia, such as Indonesia, have experienced consistent growth over the past few years.
Xasar said estimates by the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) Development Centre show that between 2015 and 2019 Indonesia is expected to achieve a phenomenal 6% GDP growth.
“According to the World Travel and Trade Council, direct contribution to GDP by the sector stood at 8.5% in 2014. This contribution to GDP is higher than the South African tourism contribution to GDP,” she said.
She said arrivals from Indonesia to South Africa have been fluctuating over the past five years, and 2014 marked the lowest with 3 102 arrivals, and 2012 the highest with 6 319.
“Since the establishment of full diplomatic relations between our countries in 1993, we have seen a very good relationship develop between our two nations. This is because we have so much in common as developing countries striving for the prosperity of our people,” she said.