Tourism Minister Mmamoloko Kubayi-Ngubane believes tourism has the potential to boost SA’s economic growth – and an expert said now is the perfect time to ride the wave of increased Chinese tourism to Africa.
Speaking at the launch of Tourism Month, Kubayi-Ngubane said SA had the largest tourism economy in Africa, having indirectly contributed 1.5 million jobs (9.2% of the country’s employment) and R425.8 billion last year.
“The creation of jobs and business opportunities is in line with our We Do Tourism movement, which aims to make it everyone’s business as this industry intersects every area of our lives.
“It gets the whole country to rally behind the tourism industry, through demonstrating the far-reaching impact of the tourism value chain,” she said.
Kubayi-Ngubane said the theme for this year’s World Tourism Day is “tourism and jobs – a better future for all”, which highlights the sector’s vast capability to create jobs and reduce the country’s unemployment rate.
“To achieve the 21 million target the department will continue to work closely with home affairs on visa facilitation to increase access to the country. Second is to work closely with the minister of police and our stakeholders to address the concerns of safety.”
According to Statistics SA a total of 3,355,904 travellers (arrivals, departures and transits) passed through SA ports of entry/exit in June.
These travellers were made up of 1,080,305 South African residents and 2,275,599 foreign travellers. There were 495,461 South African arrivals, 584,008 departures and 836 travellers in transit.
Domestic visitors contributed 57% (R124.7 billion) of total tourism spend in 2013, while international visitors contributed 43% (R94,2 billion).
In March, a World Travel and Tourism Council (WTTC) report indicated that the sector accounts for 8.6% of the country’s gross domestic product (GDP).
According to David Monyae, the director of the Centre for Africa-China Studies at the University of Johannesburg, Africa needed to make the most of the Chinese tourism surge, after it registered the highest tourist growth on average, compared to other regions.
It showed an increase of 8.6% ahead of the current global average of 7%, according to the World Tourism Organisation.
He said in 2017 alone, Africa received almost 63 million visitors, which brought an impressive revenue of $37 billion (R568 billion).
It is estimated that by 2030, Africa’s tourist figure would have reached 134 million people. The market value of this sector stands at $165 billion.
“The Africa Union’s Agenda 2063 and the 2030 United Nations Agenda for Sustainable Development recognises the importance of the tourism sector’s potential to absorb unemployment, preserve the environment and effective resources management,” said Monyae.
He said the rise of the Chinese economy to number two in the world – and particularly its 400 million-strong middle class – accounted for a large number of these new tourists on the global stage.