The SA tourism sector had employed 686 596 people in 2016, said Statistician-General, Risenga Maluleke, on Monday (March 26).

He said this was an increase of 2.7%, or 17 945 employees, compared with 2015.

According to StatsSA, the tourism sector’s share of total employment increased from 4.2% in 2015 to 4.4% in 2016. The tourism sector directly contributed 2.9% to South Africa’s gross domestic product (GDP) in 2016.

Releasing the Tourism Satellite Report (TSA) at a media briefing in Tshwane, Maluleke said there were 15 121 328 non-resident visitors to SA in 2016, compared with 13 951 901 in 2015 and 14 529 542 in 2014.

Of the non-resident visitors in 2016, 5 077 165 were same-day visitors and 10 044 163 were tourists.

“Tourism direct gross domestic product increased from R108.7bn (€7.5bn) in 2015 to R125bn (€8.6bn) in 2016 (15.1% increase),” commented Maluleke.

He said inbound tourism expenditure totalling R121bn (€8.4bn) had been recorded in 2016.

According to Maluleke, the main expenditure items were non-specific products at 28.1%, accommodation for visitors at 15%, connected products 13.4% and road passenger transport services at 11.9%.

The total internal tourism consumption in cash for SA in 2016 was R265.8bn (€18.4bn), with inbound tourism consumption at R121bn (€8.4bn, 45,7%) and domestic tourism consumption at R144bn (€9.95bn, 54,3%).

The main items for internal tourism were non-specific products at 22.2%, road passenger transport services sitting at 20.5%, accommodation for visitors 14.9%, and air passenger transport services at 13.2%.  

The TSA report provides an overview of the role that tourism plays in SA and also provides information on the contribution by the tourism sector to the economy in terms of expenditure and employment.