Tourism boom not benefitting blacks

Black South Africans have derived little benefit in the past decade from the explosion in the number of tourists visiting the country.

Black South Africans have derived little benefit in the past decade from the explosion in the number of tourists visiting the country.

So said tourism minister Marthinus van Schalkwyk, pictured, yesterday at the opening of the first conference of the Black Economic Empowerment Tourism Charter Council in Johannesburg.

He said he would have liked to say that the tourism industry had set an example for the rest of the country in respect of black economic empowerment.

"Regrettably, we have a long way to go before we can make that claim. Though many more black people are participating in the tourism industry, they are doing so more as employees than owners, directors or shareholders."

Reasons for the slow progress were many and varied, Van Schalkwyk said.

"The larger listed entities have made the most significant strides in ownership, but as one travels down the tourism chain to large unlisted companies and down to micro businesses, figures reflecting black ownership, co-ownership and even management decline significantly.

"It is also a concern that recent research undertaken by the council indicates that many large listed companies currently place ownership at the bottom of their importance list."

He said a survey in six provinces had found that only 15,6 percent of 321 bed and breakfast operations - the entry point into the industry for many entrepreneurs - were owned by blacks.

Of 90 hotels, only 4,4 percent were black-owned or controlled. Black professional caterers comprised just over 1percent of 23 establishments canvassed.

Tourism grew from an estimated 3,6million visitors in 1995 to almost 8,4million last year.

Van Schalkwyk said: "It is a sad fact that most of the country's population did not benefit much from this." - Sapa

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