Travel and tourism in South Africa contributed 1.5 million jobs and R425.8bn to the economy in 2018, representing 8.6% of all economic activity in the country and making SA the largest tourism economy in Africa, according to an annual review by the World Travel & Tourism Council.
For over 25 years, the WTTC, which represents the global private sector of travel and tourism, has compared the travel and tourism sector across 185 countries.
According to the review, the industry was primarily driven by leisure travellers (64%). About 44% of the tourism spend came from international travellers and 56% from domestic travel.
"South Africa has long grasped the potential of travel and tourism to drive economic growth, create jobs and promote social development, and I would like to acknowledge the leadership of Minister of Tourism Derek Hanekom," said Gloria Guevara, president and CEO of the WTTC, in a statement.
She also welcomed President Cyril Ramaphosa's ambition to double the number of people directly employed in travel and tourism industry in South Africa.
"Looking to the future, I believe that travel and tourism is South Africa's greatest resources, and the country's strategy for expansion, which prioritises regional integration, environment sustainability and putting the community at the heart of decisions, will make for a successful combination," she said.
A record number of more than 1 500 delegates are expected to attend the WTTC Global Summit to be held in Seville, Spain, next week, hosted by Ayuntamiento of Seville, Turismo Andaluz and Turespaña.
The Global Summit will be centred on the theme of "changemakers".
According to Guevara, the WTTC Global Summit will be the most important travel and tourism event of 2019 and fitting recognition of a sector which contributed 10.4% to global gross domestic product (GDP) and supported 319 million jobs across the world last year.