Hopes high for tourism to create 225 000 jobs by 2020

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Cape Town - The Department of Tourism hopes it will create 225 000 jobs by the year 2020.

The department's Director General, Lucas Mahlasela Makhubela, said the tourism sector was geared to contribute R118 billion directly to the Gross Domestic Product by 2015 and R188 billion by 2020.

He was speaking on Tuesday at the Tourism Summit hosted by Parliament's Portfolio Committee on Tourism in Cape Town.

The two-day summit, titled "Government's priorities and approach to tourism development, growth and transformation," has brought together government and several players in the private sector, who are largely represented by the Tourism Business Council of South Africa (TBCSA).

Makhubela said the tourism industry was labour absorbing as it required a vast number of skills and expertise, from technology to infrastructure development. It also required reasonable skills at entry level, which left room to accommodate people of various skills levels.

Other areas of growth included the African market as well as emerging markets opened by the BRICS (Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa) partnership.

Makhubela called for the development and promotion of "unique niche products".

Among other things, he urged South Africans to develop a culture of traveling and for municipalities to play a more meaningful role in promoting tourism. 

Mninwa Johannes Mahlangu, chair of the National Council of Provinces (NCOP), suggested in his welcoming remarks that the Tourism Department should also focus on creating job opportunities for the rural folk and for university graduates "who are roaming the streets".

The TBCSA's Mamatsi Morobe said they welcomed President Jacob Zuma's call during his State of the Nation Address when he identified tourism as one of the six focal points for job creation in 2011. However, she said the private sector needed incentives from government to grow the industry and create jobs.

She said for the TBCSA, transformation went beyond "black and white" and looked into areas such as human resources development, social investment, job creation and poverty alleviation. - BuaNews