State snacking on tourism’s future
We need to act now to avert further losses in the tourism sector, writes Erik Venter
Tourism is one of the few sectors of the economy to thrive in recent years. Its growth has provided a counterpoint to the decline of the mining, export and manufacturing sectors. Visitor numbers to SA are set to grow by nearly 15% year on year in 2016, according to Statistics SA. It is a much-needed driver of transformation for several reasons: the nature of SA’s many diverse attractions means that tourism revenue is not concentrated in cosmopolitan centres. Unlike sectors that require imported goods, tourism benefits from a weak rand. The tourism sector is also labour-intensive, so it creates jobs and enables skills transfer and transformation. Unlike other moribund sectors of the economy, tourism brings SA much needed foreign exchange, helping to drive the balance of payments as effectively as a strong export sector would. That is precisely why the Department of Home Affairs’ newly implemented controls for immigration at OR Tambo International Airport demand immediate and urgent a...