What Tourism Really Means To Real Estate

Among all the exciting new statistics on SA’s burgeoning tourism sector, one number in particular should stand out, and that is the fact that this sector currently accounts for at least 10% of the country’s employment.

So says Richard Gray CEO of the Harcourts Real Estate group, who says this is the real relevance of the encouraging growth in tourism to the economy – and to SA’s property market.

“Quite simply, the real estate sector can only really expand when the economy is growing and more jobs are being created, and that is where there is a really important link between property and tourism.”

He says it is of course good to hear that foreign visitors who have been to SA on holiday or business have been so impressed that they have decided to buy a property here, or that the lower rand exchange rate is bringing overseas investors back to globally sought-after destinations such as the Atlantic Seaboard, the Winelands and the “Golf Coast” of the southern Cape.

“But our real hope should be that we can keep the tourists coming here in ever-greater numbers, as that will create more opportunities for South Africans to be employed and eventually become homeowners. Theoretically, doubling the current tourism figures could raise the country’s employment rate by 10% – and that would already give thousands more local consumers the chance to participate in the formal real estate market.”

As it is, the most recent statistics released by Tourism Minister Marthinus van Schalkwyk show that tourism now contributes some R70bn a year to the national economy, and that the number of tourists coming to SA has been growing by around 10% a year since the Soccer World Cup in 2010.

“Now when one considers that the current growth rate of the overall economy was estimated in November at just 1,9% a year,” notes Gray “the significance of tourism as a potential driver of job creation – and of spinoff growth in many other sectors – becomes even greater.

“However, we believe that in order to keep up the momentum and enjoy the downstream benefits of higher employment, those other sectors need to ‘pay it forward’ now by doing whatever they can to support and promote tourism either locally or beyond our borders.

“In our case, for example, being part of the international Harcourts group and interacting with potential property buyers all over the world gives us many opportunities to showcase SA as a destination. But growing local tourism is just as important at this stage as increasing overseas visits, and even small businesses can and should be finding ways to attract people to their own areas. They will undoubtedly benefit from doing so.”

Issued by Harcourts SA –

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