Tourism as a Neoliberal Economic Messiah: The Case of South Africa

Tourism as a Neoliberal Economic Messiah: The Case of South Africa

Unathi Sonwabile Henama (Tshwane University of Technology, South Africa)
Copyright: © 2019 |Pages: 23
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-5225-6983-1.ch003
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Tourism has grown since the democratic transition in 1994. The growth of tourism has been so spectacular that today, tourism is regarded as the new gold, as it is South Africa's number one export. For the past 24 years, tourism's growth rate has always exceeded the national growth rate of the country. The sustained growth of tourism caught the attention of policy makers and private investors. The growth of tourism has mitigated the decline of mining, especially gold mining, that was the primary driver of the economy for decades. The economy of South Africa is suffering from a decline in the commodity prices, and the shedding of jobs in mining. The rise of tourism occurred when the economic fortunes were dampened by the decline of mining and agriculture, leading to widespread poverty associated with unemployment. Tourism has become an economic messiah. The literature review adds to a paucity of academic gaze on the tourism industry in South Africa.
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Structural Challenges Facing South Africa

South Africa has a stubborn unemployment rate which is a major contributor towards poverty. Economic growth has been pedestrian and has failed to create the jobs necessary jobs to address unemployment. In addition, the majority of private companies are busy with an investment strike, sitting on records amounts of cash in a bank account instead of investing in the economy of South Africa. “Since 1996, the Growth, Employment, and Redistribution (GEAR) programme have been the central economic programme. The idea was to stimulate growth above 6%, which in turn would lead to 500,000 jobs being created. Between 1996 and 2008. South Africa’s economy did grow but at an average of 3.2%. Since the financial crisis, growth has slowed even further” (Mbele, 2014, p. 1). According to Ryan (2018), the Minister of Finance projected that the economy will grow by 2%. “Poverty eradication is a long-term project that in South Africa began in earnest only eight years ago. Following the first racially inclusive democratic elections in 1994, the government’s efforts to eliminate poverty has been frustrated by the continued shedding of jobs from the formal economy” (Aliber, 2003, p. 473).

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