The Industrial Development Corporation (IDC) has identified rural nodes and non-accommodation sub-sectors as strategic areas to facilitate job creation and grow the tourism sector. Christine Engelbrecht, head of the tourism business unit, says the IDC plans to contribute to government’s goals of creating jobs by funding more viable businesses and projects.
“Tourism is one of the priority sectors identified in government’s New Growth Path (NGP). The IDC has injected R249-million in various tourism projects in the last financial year, creating 944 direct jobs,” says Engelbrecht.
However, Engelbrecht says, despite these successes, the tourism industry has not been immune to the financial turmoil in global markets.
“The industry is struggling, and recovery is going to be long, slow and difficult. Major hotel operators are consolidating at the moment and an oversupply of rooms means major new developments in the main city centres are not on the cards,” she says.
The NGP highlights tourism as central to job creation and aims to remove some of the obstacles to the growth of the industry.
Engelbrecht says the IDC is now focusing on underdeveloped parts of South Africa, the rest of the continent and niche tourism sectors.
“Our new approach is aimed at improving the spread of tourism businesses. This means focusing on undeveloped nodes, particularly in Limpopo, Mpumalanga and the Eastern Cape, as well as the poorer rural areas of other provinces. We’re also looking at tourism businesses in townships, developments on community land with community participation, and other broad-based black economic empowerment initiatives.”
In line with this, some of the projects the IDC is currently looking at include a beach tourism resort in KwaZulu-Natal, a kite-surfing development in the Western Cape, and an extreme sport facility in the Northern Cape – South Africa’s most underdeveloped province.