Pretoria — The tourism sector has a huge potential to create jobs, says Tourism Deputy Minister Tokozile Xasa.
Speaking on Tuesday at the Tourism Trade show in Singapore, Deputy Minister Xasa said the tourism sector was continuing to think innovatively about new and exciting ways to attract visitors.
“This is exciting news for budding entrepreneurs and the youth of the country, as innovation is very often the cornerstone of what sets one business apart from the next and allows new start-ups an opportunity to gain market access.
“Especially in our townships and rural areas, cultural tourism is a niche that continues to offer opportunities,” she said.
The Department of Tourism is partnering with business owners in the sector to leverage off the unique heritage of the country, especially in terms of the country’s liberation struggle history.
Deputy Minister Xasa said the sector is valued due to the fact that it has very few barriers to entry for new businesses, especially when compared to other industries such as mining.
“In addition, the sector is less capital intensive than most others while also being more reliant on human capital,” Deputy Minister Xasa said.
She said the National Development Plan prioritises Small and Medium Enterprises as an important strategic driver of growth.
“Significant resources are being made available across a variety of departments to grow small businesses, stimulate a mindset of entrepreneurship and ease barriers to entry for our already enterprising South Africans,” Deputy Minister Xasa said.
She said the consistent increase in tourism arrivals over the past few years is testament to the success of a variety of initiatives from the side of government and in partnership with business
According to the national statistics agency, tourism made a direct contribution of R103.6 billion to the Gross Domestic Product in 2013, rising from R93.5 billion in 2012.
Domestic visitors contributed 57 percent of the total tourism spend in 2013, while international visitors contributed 43 percent.
“The tourism industry employs 655 609 people directly and 1.5 million both directly and indirectly. One in every ten jobs in our country is supported by tourism,” Deputy Minister Xasa said.