Tourism is poised to play a greater role than ever before, both on the global stage and in the lives of South Africans. However, tourism is about much more than the policies, statistics and objectives that we often talk about. It is about people.
Being a labour-intensive sector with a supply chain that cascades deep into our national economy and across all communities, tourism is positioned as a priority sector in Government’s planning and policy frameworks.
The National Department of Tourism is mandated to create conditions for the sustainable growth and development of tourism in South Africa. The Tourism Act makes provision for the promotion of tourism to and in the Republic and for regulation and rationalisation of the tourism sector, including measures aimed at the enhancement and maintenance of the standards of facilities and services utilised by tourists; and the co-ordination and rationalisation of the activities of those who are active in the tourism sector.
In 2011, the tourism sector worldwide supported 258 million direct, indirect and induced employment opportunities, just under 9% of the global workforce. Of these, 100 million were direct jobs, which means that every single employment opportunity in the direct tourism economy supports another 1,6 indirect jobs.
During the 2008/9 global economic downturn, tourism also played a critical anti-cyclical role in support of our national economy, and contributed significantly to our gross domestic product, foreign exchange earnings and poverty reduction. In South Africa, as in the rest of the world, tourism remains one of the fastest-growing economic sectors, with huge potential for future job creation and social inclusion, in particular with regard to women and young people.