Following the economic downturn which began in 2008, the tourism industry has continued to be an economic driving force for South Africa and is set to be its next boom industry. Throughout the downturn tourism has continued to prove its economic potential in a tough global environment.
Last year alone over 9-million visitors arrived in South Africa, an increase of just over one million compared to 2015 figures. This represents a 13% growth in tourism arrivals. It is these numbers that have probably propelled government to declare tourism as a key job driver. Added to the growth in tourist numbers was the growth in tourism spend. According to the Department of Tourism, during the first months of 2016, up to R39.3-billion in foreign direct spend was achieved in South Africa.
With the Treasury allocating an additional R494 million to the tourism budget this year, there is no doubt of the kind of value government sees in the sector. The Department of Tourism says its policy focus over the medium term will be on creating work opportunities and increasing the number of domestic and international tourist arrivals from 11 million in 2015/16 to 12 million by 2017/18. The National Tourism Sector Strategy (NTSS) seeks to increase tourism’s total direct and indirect contribution to the economy from R189, 4 billion in 2009 to R318, 2 billion in 2015 and R499 billion in 2020.