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S/Africa’s investment in tourism business a boon, says Minister

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South Africa’s continued investment in tourism is paying off through job creation, the growth of small-scale medium enterprises, rural development and increased revenue to the country, Tourism Minister Derek Hanekom has said.The minister said in a report released Monday that the tourism sector directly employed 617,000 people in 2012, which made up 4.6 percent of the total workforce then.

In 2012, according to Statistics South Africa, tourism’s direct contribution to Gross Domestic Product (GDP) was US$9.3 billion.

“If we add indirect employment, it exceeds 1.4 million people – roughly 10 percent of the total workforce. This represents an impressive annual growth rate of 4.7 percent over the past 20 years,” Hanekom said, adding that his ministry will spend US$16 million to guide the sector in the 2014/15 financial year.

The funding should assist in improving the arrival figures, according to the minister, which saw South Africa’s “international tourist arrivals to our shores growing to 9.6 million in 2013.”

In his 2014 State of the Nation Address, President Jacob Zuma said South Africa’s tourism sector indeed continued to show positive growth despite tough global trading conditions in traditional markets.

“We have set a target to increase the number of foreign visitor arrivals to more than 15 million annually by 2017,” Zuma said, adding that his government was making efforts to increase the contribution of tourism to the country’s GDP to more than US$12.5 billion in 2017.

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