The airline industry makes a major contribution to the South African economy, promoting tourism and accounting for jobs for people employed directly by airlines, airport operators, ground handling service providers, airport on-site retailers, aircraft manufacturers and technical services, and air navigation service providers. Foreign tourists, especially those arriving by air to South Africa, spend their money in the local economy, supporting restaurants, hotels, transport providers, and others who cater to tourists.
The World Travel and Tourism Council research estimates that the direct contribution of travel and tourism to GDP was ZAR127.9bn, 3.0% of total GDP in 2016 and is forecast to rise by 2.7% in 2017, and by 4.5% per annum from 2017-2027, to ZAR204.4bn, 3.8% of total GDP in 2027. Equally, the research confirms that in 2016 travel and tourism directly supported 716,500 jobs, which is 4.6% of total employment in the country. This is expected to rise by 3.6% in 2017 and rise by 4.1% per annum to 1,110,000 jobs (6.0% of total employment) in 2027. In 2016, the total contribution of travel and tourism to employment, including jobs indirectly supported by the industry was 9.8% of total employment (1,533,000 jobs). Stats SA’s domestic travel survey reveals that domestic travel has been on incessant decline since 2015, whilst foreign visitor trips to South Africa are on the rise.
This emphatically affirms the significance of international air transport’s contribution to the country’s travel and tourism economy. It is for this reason that BARSA is a member of Business Unity South Africa (BUSA), to ensure that the contribution of African and International airlines to the local economy is fully exploited and enhanced.