FOR­EIGN LABOUR in the Tourism In­dus­try

Tourism Tattler - - BUSINESS & FINANCE -

2015 was pos­si­bly the year when the tourism in­dus­try got the most pub­lic at­ten­tion af­ter the im­ple­men­ta­tion of the visa reg­u­la­tions. It be­came a ma­jor talk­ing point and be­cause tourism in South Africa has a class char­ac­ter, the class na­ture of the de­bate was raised by the main stream me­dia.

The minute some­thing af­fects the mid­dle class and the own­ers of the means of pro­duc­tion, it is forced into a na­tional is­sue, whereas is­sues such as poverty, in­equal­ity and un­em­ploy­ment do not get the same gaze in the me­dia. So the #VisaMustFall, stands side by side with #FeesMustFall and #RhodesMustFall as ma­jor is­sues of the year 2015.

I agree that the im­ple­men­ta­tion of the visa reg­u­la­tion had a detri­men­tal im­pact on the tourism in­dus­try of South Africa, lead­ing to de­clin­ing ar­rivals and this threat­ened the liveli­hood of many.

The tim­ing of the visa reg­u­la­tions led to a per­fect storm as the South Africa Rand was one of the most volatile cur­ren­cies that de­pre­ci­ated against ma­jor cur­ren­cies. This was an op­por­tu­nity lost to mar­ket des­ti­na­tion South Africa as be­ing on ‘'sale'' to at­tract price sen­si­tive mar­kets and deepen pen­e­tra­tion in other mar­ket seg­ments. The share of min­ing's con­tri­bu­tion to Gross Do­mes­tic Prod­uct (GDP) de­creased fur­ther, whilst the com­mod­ity prices de­creased. The growth rate of the econ­omy in South Africa de­creased to less than 2% and the tourism in­dus­try had a greater re­spon­si­bil­ity to play but be­cause of the visa reg­u­la­tions, its de­vel­op­men­tal abil­ity was damp­ened by the visa reg­u­la­tions. The visa reg­u­la­tions were re­laxed af­ter gov­ern­ment was suc­cess­fully lob­bied and the gov­ern­ment has taken steps to en­sure that tourism red tape is re­duced.

The Tourism BEE Act in­di­cated that it seeks to in­te­grate the pre­vi­ously dis­ad­van­taged in tourism as con­sumers and prod­uct own­ers and se­condly, to en­sure that tourism in South Africa re­mains glob­ally com­pet­i­tive. The Na­tional Tourism Sec­tor Strat­egy is very clear that South Africa must be one of the top 20 tourism des­ti­na­tions in the world.

Tourism des­ti­na­tions at­tracts tourism be­cause of the pos­i­tive eco­nomic im­pacts such as labour in­ten­sive jobs, tourism act­ing as a cat­a­lyst for other in­dus­tries, the at­trac­tion of for­eign ex­change, and for­eign di­rect in­vest­ment that comes with tourism. Tourism which to­day at­tracts more for­eign ex­change than min­ing has its own gold rush. Just like the growth of min­ing led to an in­ward mi­gra­tion of peo­ple look­ing to ex­ploit the op­por­tu­ni­ties that min­ing cre­ated, so too do peo­ple mi­grate to ar­eas that have a lot of tourism op­por­tu­ni­ties.

Ac­cord­ing to the SARB Fi­nan­cial Sta­bil­ity Re­view (2015), un­em­ploy­ment re­mains one of the big­gest con­cerns in South Africa, where more than 25 per cent re­main un­em­ployed. The big­gest con­trib­u­tor to poverty in South Africa is ram­pant un­em­ploy­ment, feed­ing into the in­equal­ity lev­els, some of the great­est in the world. I then find it odd that the tourism in­dus­try (in­clu­sive of hos­pi­tal­ity) ap­pears to have taken a po­si­tion to em­ploy for­eign labour.

The em­ploy of for­eign labour is a trav­esty to the de­vel­op­ment po­ten­tial of tourism, lead­ing to eco­nomic leak­age. The em­ploy of for­eign labour in me­nial jobs adds in­sult to in­jury as lo­cals are able to do the same jobs.

Tourism & Mi­gra­tion

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