GROWTH IN THE TOURISM SECTOR NOT BENEFITTING SMALL BUSINESSES
By: Zimasa Matiwane and M. Lucia Mzinyathi
South African Tourism is growing annually with close to 10 million international tourists gracing the country’s shores, last year alone. This figure, coupled with domestic tourists, should be reflecting on small businesses annual turnovers but small business owners in the tourism sector are still struggling to make ends meet.
Speaking at the 2013 Indaba, Tourism Minister Marthinus van Schalkwyk said, “We welcomed approximately 9.2 million international tourists in 2012 and our overall international growth was 10.2%. Domestic tourism also contributed R101 billion to our economy in 2011.” It was taken as news that needed applause because of how SA has earned a seat in being one of the world’s most visited places.
Meanwhile for Sabathile Maphumulo, a street vendor who has been trading at Durban’s beachfront for close to twenty years, renting a stall for R820 per year is becoming a liability. Maphumulo claimed that surviving in this business is becoming harder as she feels that trading opportunities are decreasing. According to Maphumulo, international tourists are transported from hotels to tourist attraction sites like Ushaka Marine World, where the same goods that she sells are also sold, and this is crippling her business. She reminisced that back in the day, selling in front of hotels that accommodated tourists used to work in her favour. However, things have now changed as she sometimes makes a mere R60 per day.
The Department of Tourism prides itsself in promoting South Africa as a tourist destination, which will in turn contribute to our GDP and grow the economy.
Meredith, co-owner of a Three Star Bed & Breakfast located in Pinetown has given up attracting tourists. “Because the B&B is inland, we rely on corporate clientele, tourists hardly see reason to leave the beach and visit this side of town.” While Sibongile Xaba, owner of Bellabheka situated in KwaMashu said, “Business is very slow. I think the problem is that the business is not being marketed properly.”
Even though the tourism sector is growing exponentially, it is evident that a lot of work still needs to be done in marketing and promoting small businesses that will fully participate in growing the South African economy.