The Portfolio Committee on Tourism has noted the unemployment statistics released by Statistics SA.
Having 29% 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 before in working towards reducing this figure.
Unemployment is rife in rural areas, small towns and townships all over the country. 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.
At present, 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 tourism 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 of the tourism value chain.
The current spate of media reports about crime has repercussions for South Africa’s image as a tourist destination. All South Africans should work together to create a safer country, as this will encourage more tourists.
Supplied by the Parliamentary Communication Services on behalf of the Portfolio Committee on Tourism.