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Still opportunities for entrepreneurs in tourism industry

Jun 20 2016 17:58

Cape Town - The tourism industry employs about 4.4% of all people employed in SA, and one in 12 jobs is in tourism, according to Enver Mally, chair of Cape Town Tourism.

He said in the light of the increasing challenge in SA to find and retain employment, it is important to realise why the tourism industry is still showing slow, but steady growth, while some other sectors are shedding jobs.   

Data by Stats SA from the Quarterly Labour Force Survey shows from the last quarter of 2015 to the end of the first quarter of 2016 unemployment figures have risen from 24.5% to 26.7%.

For example, 5.714 million people were without jobs in the first quarter of 2016 compared with 5.2 million in the previous quarter. The manufacturing sector shed 331 000 jobs between 2008 and 2014. Agriculture shed 117 000 jobs in the same period.

Over the same period, tourism provided 48 000 more jobs. The total contribution of the tourism sector - including wider investments and the supply chain - is projected to grow from 9.5% of the gross domestic product (GDP) in 2015 to 10.5% of the GDP by 2025.

"The growth in tourism is not nearly enough to provide a solution for all of the unemployment woes facing the country. Obviously not everyone can work in the tourism sector. That said, however, there are many opportunities for enterprising, hardworking individuals to make a place for themselves in the tourism industry," emphasised Mally.

READ: Tourism in SA recovering rapidly, says Hanekom

Partnering for success

In his view, tourism is the ideal environment for entrepreneurs to prosper, particularly when it comes to inclusive growth.

"A good idea can become a fully-fledged business plan and it may not require a large capital investment to become a working business. In tourism, human capital is important – the service offered by individuals to visitors is of potential greater value to the visitors than, say, commodities, for example," said Mally.

"These smaller businesses are under no obligation to assist each other, but the tourism sector is quite unusual in that you see bigger companies helping out SMEs. There’s a camaraderie that seeks to support others and provide mentoring."

He added that as an entrepreneur and businessperson he has sought to assist other entrepreneurs with their efforts. One tangible example of how tourism businesses partner is the Cape Town Tourism Board Development Partnership.

Every year the partnership provides two awards of R50 000 each to previously disadvantaged tourism entrepreneurs. It includes mentoring, website development and other practical offerings. In 2016 a third award has been given as Thebe Tourism Group has come to the party.

"These kinds of initiatives contribute directly to transformation in the industry. If you’re enterprising, adventurous and resilient, tourism may be the place for you," said Mally.

"I’d advise anyone thinking of entering this fascinating sector to find out as much as you can before taking the plunge, and to partner with those who have experience."

He also pointed out that, as hospitality grows the need for local suppliers such as farmers and manufacturers will grow too.

"So, growth in tourism will trickle back across other sectors, providing a more sustainable economic climate all round," said Mally.

ALSO READ: Tourism is everybody's business in SA - industry body


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