The World Travel & Tourism Council (WTTC) has revealed positive signs of recovery for the South African Travel & Tourism sector with travellers heading back to its major cities.
The report, researched in partnership with Oxford Economics, analysed key indicators such as Travel & Tourism’s direct contribution to GDP, employment and traveller spending.
The results show travellers are returning to cities such as Cape Town and Johannesburg with all indicators bouncing back to pre-pandemic levels.
The WTTC Cities Economic Impact Report shows that in 2019, the Travel & Tourism sector contributed over $2.5BN to Cape Town’s economy and more than $2.1BN to Johannesburg.
However, the pandemic devastated the country’s economy. In 2020, both cities Travel & Tourism GDP contributions dropped by more than half, falling to $1BN.
But the light is at the end of the tunnel. Over the last two years, since the border reopened, both cities have witnessed a significant recovery.
In 2022, Cape Town’s sector is expected to have grown to $1.8BN, 28% lower than 2019 levels, while Johannesburg’s Travel & Tourism sector is forecast to be worth just over $2.2BN, 4% above 2019 levels.
Julia Simpson, WTTC President & CEO, said: “South Africa has long been a world-favourite destination and after more than two years of disruption, it’s great to see tourists heading back. Tourism provides a massive boost to both the economy and job creation.
“It is crucial that the national and local governments continue to recognise the importance of Travel & Tourism for the local and national economies, jobs, and businesses.”
Jobs on the rise
In 2019 there were more than 170,000 people employed by the Travel & Tourism sector in Cape Town. In 2020 this figure dropped to just over 117,000 (-32%). But in 2021, employment grew by 8% to 127,000 jobs and is expected to have grown at two and a half times that rate in 2022, to reach more than 152,000 jobs.
In Johannesburg, it’s a similar picture.
Before the pandemic, there were over 138,000 Travel & Tourism jobs, but this number fell by 28,000 to just over 110,000 in 2020. A 10% rise in 2021 saw the number increase to more than 120,000.
WTTC is forecasting jobs to grow three times as fast in 2022 to reach more than 156,000 jobs – 11.5% more jobs than pre-pandemic levels.
The report also shows that the sector’s contribution to both cities will increase by more than $2.25BN over the next decade.
According to the global tourism body’s forecast, Cape Town’s Travel & Tourism sector is expected to contribute over $3.3BN, while Johannesburg’s will provide a boost of almost $800MN by 2032 to reach just under $3BN annually.