The tourism sector in South Africa has been called one of the most promising contributors to the SA economy and GDP growth by the SA government. It has also been noted as a high-potential job-creation engine across the diverse work feeders into the tourism landscape.

The latest Tourism Satellite Account for South Africa: final 2015 and provisional 2016, 2017 and 2018 report, published on November 27, revealed that 2017 saw the tourism sector celebrate its most successful year of job creation in the past eight years, with 31 752 jobs being created in 2017, compared with a loss of 12 262 jobs in 2015.

The top three job creation sectors were as follows (2017 concluded/2016 concluded figures):

  • Road passenger transport: 16 676 new jobs
  • Accommodation: 5 464 new jobs
  • Air passenger transport: 3 194 new jobs

The following graph shows a breakdown of jobs created per sector.

A longer-term analysis further revealed that the tourism sector was playing a larger role in job creation than the other major industries, outperforming transport and communication, mining, utilities (electricity, gas and water) and manufacturing, according to figures over the last four years (2014 to 2017).

In 2017, figures showed that one in every 22 people employed in SA was working in the tourism sector – a total of 722 013 individuals. This represents 4.5% of the total SA workforce of 16.2 million people.

Should the tourism job creation sector continue on its current trajectory, it could well meet President Cyril Ramaphosa’s goal of doubling its employment numbers.