Tourism is regarded as a modern-day engine of growth and is one of the largest industries globally. One of the advantages of tourism as an export earner is that it is less volatile than the commodity sector.

Tourism has been earmarked as a growth industry in South Africa, as the industry is ideally suited to adding value to the country’s many natural, cultural and other resources.

According to the World Travel and Tourism Council, tourism directly and indirectly constitutes approximately 7% of GDP and employment in South Africa.

Some 74% of all visitors in 2006 were from mainland Africa and about 26% from overseas. About 7.9 million of the 8.5 million foreign travellers (92%) visited the country for a holiday and approximately 196 951 (2.3%) for business in 2006.

According to the World Tourism Organisation, sub-Saharan Africa attracted 2.9% of the world’s tourists in 2005. Of this percentage, South Africa has about 20.5% of market share. South Africa’s international tourism receipts amounted to $7.3-billion in 2005. Its share of total African tourist arrivals and tourism receipts was over 34% in 2005.

The outlook for the future of the industry is positive, especially considering the 2010 Fifa World Cup. The build-up to the event, as well as the exposure that South Africa will receive before and after the event, will no doubt result in aggressive growth in foreign tourism. This has been a proven fact in every country where the event has been held.

It is projected that in 2010 the South African tourism industry will employ more than 1.2 million people either directly or indirectly.

Image: The cable car up Table Mountain, one of Cape Town’s most popular attractions.
Photo: Mary Alexander,