Visitors from across the continent and the globe flocking to our shores, for not only our many stunning attractions, but also our expanding business opportunities. It is no wonder then, that tourism continues to grow at a steady rate in spite of a distressed economic environment.
Statistics South Africa’s most recent Tourism Satellite Account for South Africa, highlights key sector trends over a five-year period between 2012 and 2016. The study shows that tourism contributed 2,9% to South African gross domestic product (GDP), making it a larger contributor than agriculture. One in three South Africans is employed in tourism, surpassing employment rates within the mining sector, which is a clear indicator of the economic power that tourism drives.
Benediction Zubane, Head of Marketing at Mango Airlines, believes that SMEs are perfectly positioned to take advantage of, what is dubbed the ‘New Gold’ of the South African economy. It does however, require the right approach to take advantage of the tools and resources available to SMEs, to ensure they are among the biggest beneficiaries of this boom.
The opportunities in tourism span far beyond the obvious aviation and transportation, immigration and hospitality industries. A complex arena, tourism growth impacts on a variety of other sectors. Banking, security, medical services, construction and even agriculture benefit from harnessing the opportunities presented by our expanding tourism industries. This expands further with the business tourism sector, including cleaning and catering providers, talent and entertainment management, translation services and tour operators, among many others.
“SMEs are part of the DNA of business in South Africa,” explains Zubane.
“While some sectors have had to face the tough task of shedding portions of their workforce, tourism has seen the opposite. With over 40 000 new jobs created over the period reported on by Stats SA, almost 700 000 are now employed within the tourism sector. The most exciting part is the move visitors we attract, the more jobs we create, the more families and communities we impact positively.”
Zubane attributes part of this growth to the increasing ease of travel, facilitated by organisations such as his own at Mango. “This is a role we are incredibly proud of. Flying more routes more often encourages easier access to various regions, and increased movement of goods, services and of course, people. For SMEs in the field, the critical first step is studying this landscape to identify areas where your skills and expertise will fill gaps in the market, understanding what the needs are, and the viability thereof.”
His advice is to travel-entrepreneurs is to make sure you know your market, what the demands are, and where you can come in to provide solutions or innovate on existing offerings.
“New ideas drive the industry forward,” Zubane continues. “Ask yourself if you have something exciting to offer your customers and investors. We see many companies following a generic approach to how they package and present their services. How can you improve systems and products to innovate in your field? What do you offer that others don’t? Clarify the answers to these key questions for the best chance at success,” concludes Zubane.
Download your own Tourism Website Services Sample Business Plan here to get you started.