Cape Town - Travel and tourism is forecast to contribute more to the South African economy in 2018 than in any other year, according to new research released by the World Travel & Tourism Council (WTTC) on Thursday.
The WTTC forecasts that the sector will contribute R424.5bn to the overall SA economy in 2018 - about 3% more than in 2017.
According to Gloria Guevara, president and CEO of WTTC, travel and tourism creates jobs, drives economic growth and helps build better societies.
"WTTC predicts that our sector will contribute more to the SA economy than in any other year, which makes it the perfect partner for the new administration to put at the heart of the country’s long-term economic plans,” she said.
Travel and tourism supported 1.5 million jobs in SA in 2017 - 9.5% of total employment in the country. The WTTC report estimates that by 2028 almost 2.1 million jobs in SA will depend on travel and tourism.
The industry contributes 9% of the total gross domestic product (GDP) of SA, once all the direct, indirect and induced benefits are taken into account.
In constant 2017 prices and exchange rates, the direct contribution of travel and tourism to SA's GDP was R136.1bn (2.9% of total GDP) in 2017. WTTC forecasts this will rise by 2.4% in 2018 and by 3.6% per year between 2018 to 2028. The total contribution of travel and tourism to SA's GDP was R412.5bn (8.9% of GDP) in 2017 and is forecast to rise by 2.9% in 2018.
As for the potential impact of the drought in the Western Cape and Cape Town's water challenge on the tourism industry, WTTC spokesperson Toby Nicol told Fin24 that the numbers released in the latest report did not model any possible impact of the Cape Town water situation as the situation appears to be under control.
Cape Town is also just one element of the overall SA tourism offer.
"Tourists tend to be remarkably resilient when it comes to visiting destinations," he added.
For the seventh consecutive year, the global travel and tourism sector has outperformed the global economy. In 2017 it was the fastest growing broad economic sector globally, showing stronger growth than all sectors including manufacturing (4.2%), retail and wholesale (3.4%), agriculture, forestry and fisheries (2.6%) and financial services (2.5%).
It supports one in ten jobs on the planet and contributes 10% of global GDP, according to Guevara.
"Over the past ten years, one in five of all jobs created across the world has been in the sector and, with the right support from governments, nearly 100 million new jobs could be created over the decade ahead,” she said.
Global forecasts for 2018 suggest that growth in the global travel and tourism industry will continue, although at a slower rate than in 2017 as a result of higher oil prices.
“As our sector continues to become more important both as a generator of GDP and jobs, our key challenge will be ensuring this growth is sustainable and inclusive," said Guevara.
"Going forward we need to ensure that growth is planned for, well managed and includes partnerships between not only the public and private sectors but also includes communities themselves."
* Sign up to Fin24's top news in your inbox: SUBSCRIBE TO FIN24 NEWSLETTER