The tourism industry is of vital importance to South Africa, because of its capacity to grow the country’s GDP through economic growth, job creation and attracting foreign exchange. In 2013 alone, the number of persons employed in the tourism industry amounted to 4,5% of all employed persons in South Africa, providing jobs at 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.