According to the World Travel & Tourism Council (WTTC), the South African Travel & Tourism's GDP will drive the national economic recovery over the next ten years.
WTTC's Economic Impact Report (EIR) has revealed the South African Travel & Tourism sector is forecasted to expand at an average rate of 7.6 percent annually over the next decade, significantly outpacing the 1.8 percent growth rate of the country's overall economy.
By 2032, the sector's contribution to GDP could potentially rise to more than ZAR 554.6 billion (7.4 percent of the total economy), injecting nearly ZAR 287 billion into the national economy.
Additionally, the sector is anticipated to create over 800,000 jobs during this period, to reach more than 1.9 million by 2032.
Although the data suggests a bright future for South Africa's Travel & Tourism sector, the recovery was seriously impeded after the detection and surge of the Omicron variant.
Many countries worldwide placed severe and damaging restrictions on African countries, which caused even further damage to those economies, putting thousands more livelihoods at risk.
By the end of 2022, Travel & Tourism's contribution to GDP is expected to grow 37.2 percent year on year, to nearly ZAR 268 billion (4.3 percent of the total economy).
Employment in the sector is slated to increase by 3.8 percent to reach more than 1.1 million jobs.
"Although the future looks bright for the South African Travel & Tourism sector, the recovery this year will be slower than expected," said Julia Simpson, President & CEO of WTTC.
"Knee-jerk travel restrictions imposed over South Africa and other African destinations were impulsive and unjustified. Instead of punishing, these countries should have been praised for discovering the variant early."
"However, with GDP contribution and jobs on the rise, the long-term forecast looks very positive."
In 2019, the South African Travel & Tourism sector's contribution to GDP as a share of the total economy was 6.4 percent (ZAR 405.2 billion), dropping to just 3.1 percent (ZAR 180 billion) in 2020, which represented a staggering 55.6 percent loss.
Across the country, the sector supported more than 1.5 million jobs before suffering a 29.9 percent decrease, falling to just over one million.
WTTC's latest EIR report also shows that 2021 saw the beginning of the recovery for South Africa's Travel & Tourism sector.
Last year, its contribution to GDP climbed 8.4 percent year on year to reach just over ZAR 195 billion.
The sector also witnessed a recovery of 20,000 Travel & Tourism jobs, representing a 1.9 percent rise to almost 1.1 million.