Tourism plays an important social, economic, and cultural role worldwide. For this reason, the United Nations (UN) has declared 27 September World Tourism Day.

The theme for World Tourism Day 2016 is Tourism for all. Promoting Universal Accessibility.

The idea behind this theme is to acknowledge every person’s “right to experience the incredible diversity this planet has to offer”[source] – as well as to bring into focus the different ways in which this right can be promoted.


As UNWTO Secretary-General Taleb Rifai stated in his official message, travelling is not always an easy process, particularly for the elderly and for those with disabilities. He says:

When travelling, we come across new people, new sights, and new ideas. Often our perception of the world changes as we see more of it. However, we must not forget that for many, travelling can be quite a difficult process.

15% of the world’s population is estimated to live with some form of disability. That is 1 billion people around the world who may be unable to enjoy the privilege of knowing other cultures, experience nature at its fullest and experience the thrill of embarking on a journey to explore new sights.

Accessibility for all should be at the center of tourism policies and business strategies not only as a human right, but also as a great market opportunity.

With the world’s population ageing, all of us will benefit sooner or later from universal accessibility in tourism. [source]


Tourism in South Africa

In South Africa, a country that is already regarded as a popular tourist destination, the government has placed an emphasis on developing the tourism industry.

While the tourist numbers fell slightly in 2015 (due, in part, to new visa regulations that have subsequently been changed), tourism is regarded as a growth industry in SA:

  • In December 2013, a record number of tourists (937 772) entered South Africa.[source]
  • In the first quarter of 2016, the total number of international arrivals was up by 19%. [source]
  • Between 2005 and 2014, the number of people employed in the tourism sector increased from 475 664 to 680 817 (an increase of 43%).[source]
  • Between 2005 and 2014, South Africa’s tourism trade balance was positive, meaning that more money came into the country as a result of tourism than what flowed out from the country due to tourism.[source]


Have a look at the infographic below:

Infographic - The importance of tourism in the SA economy


What all of this means is that if you are looking for a career in a growing industry, where you can make a real difference, tourism is a good option. The career options provided by the tourism industry range from entry-level positions such as waiter, barista, and bartender, to mid- and senior-level positions such as:

  • Travel Consultant
  • Hotel Manager
  • Guest House Owner
  • Catering Manager
  • Restaurant Manager
  • Policy Officer in the Department of Tourism


Click to find out more about studying toward a career in tourism


By entering a career in tourism, you can help not only to make tourism more accessible for all, but also to:

  • Develop South Africa’s economy by strengthening the economic growth of the tourism industry.
  • Promote cultural diversity and inclusivity.
  • Promote environmental sustainability in the tourism industry.
  • Create job opportunities by eventually starting up your own venture in the tourism industry.


Read more about World Tourism Day and the important role of tourism in our society here.