The good news about being in tourism in South Africa

  • 05 December 2014 | Roela Hattingh
courtesy of Jose Romeu de Abreu

You are lucky. At the southern tip of Africa is an awe-inspiring, multilingual, multifaceted country. And you get people to visit it.

“People travel to faraway places to watch, in fascination, the kind of people they ignore at home,” said philosopher Dagobert D. Runes.

The South African tourism industry has become a key driver of socio-economic progress, through infrastructure development and creating export revenue, jobs and enterprises. 

Thank you for helping us attain these impressive figures:

  • 9% of South Africa's GDP (direct/indirect and induced) is a result of tourism
  • Tourism provides one in 11 jobs 
  • South Africa's compound annual growth in foreign arrivals was 9.3% over the past 10 years, compared to the global tourism growth average of 4.5% per year

There are five key factors that influence our industry and people’s perception of South Africa. We know you know, but here's a reminder of them:

Informal traders. Image courtesy of World Bank Photo Collection

Welcome to my customers. Image courtesy of MyAngelG

  1. When travellers arrive in South Africa, they do so expecting something new. They anticipate a different environment with unfamiliar characteristics, and are looking for detail and experiences that are other than what they know. South Africa doesn't disappoint. 
  2. We are a multilingual society and most South Africans communicate in a second language, making us familiar with greeting people in their own language. Through this we can create a very easy rapport.
  3. The South African informal sector is huge. The lady who sells mielies (corn) on the side of the road, or bright red tomatoes on blue plastic plates and delicious amagwinya (vetkoek/fritters) at the taxi rank, or the young man with the brooms, the linkho (clay pots) and the beaded flamingos, are all part of this sector. They enhance tourists' experience of our country and contribute to the GDP.
  4. We have Cape Town, and a blue-blue sky. From the journal of Sir Francis Drake, on seeing the Cape for the first time, in 1580: “This cape is the most stately thing and the fairest cape we saw in the whole circumference of the earth.”
  5. And, of course, anyone can walk in the footsteps of our great Madiba.

Cape Town. Image courtesy of Dietmar Temps

Let’s do some blue-sky thinking and continue with what we do best. Let’s welcome the world to Mzansi, our beautiful country: Bienvenue, willkommen, kuwakaribisha, Ahla w sahla, ようこそ (yōkoso), selamat datang, bienvenido/s.

Feature image courtesy of Jose Romeu de Abreu