Parliament, The Chairperson of the Portfolio Committee on Tourism, Mr Supra Mahumapelo, has noted the unemployment statistic released by Statistics South Africa and commends the entity for a job well done in highlighting this important information. Having 29 percent of 58.78 million South Africans unemployed is a dismal picture, but this means that the Department of Tourism and the tourism sector must be more diligent that ever in working towards reducing this figure.

Unemployment is rife in rural areas, small towns (dorpies) and townships all over the country, but the tourism industry is labour intensive and has the potential to absorb many South Africans into formal employment. Hence, programmes geared towards training the youth and women, in particular, to enter the sector should be intensified. Currently, tourism employs about 720 000 people directly and a further 1.5 million indirectly, accounting for 4.5% of all those employed.

The sector is poised to achieve 2.2 million jobs and contribute R941 billion to gross domestic product by 2026, with the aim of doubling international tourist arrivals to 21 million by 2030. The more the arrivals, the greater the tourist spend, which means a higher prospect for job creation. This can only be realised with the committee working together with all stakeholders to remove barriers to tourism growth, including visas, tourist safety, improved connectivity and infrastructure, and service excellence in all areas in the tourism value chain.

The current spate of media reports about the dangers of Cape Town has serious repercussions for South Africa’s image as a tourist destination, not just for Cape Town but for South Africa as a whole. All South Africans should work together to create a safer South Africa, as this will encourage more tourist visitors.

Source: Parliament of the Republic of South Africa