Business Day Dialogue on SME resilience in the tourism sector: How to fully realize South Africa’s potential as a tourism destination

Within the framework of the Resilient and Sustainable Enterprises in Tourism (RESET) project, the Business Day Dialogue explored the pressing challenges to MSME resilience in South Africa’s tourism sector, and the role that business member organizations and public sector can play in promoting resilience.

South Africa has a tourist product of unequalled diversity that few other countries can match. The tourism sector in South Africa is a key driver of the economy and contributed 3.7% to GDP in 2019. Most businesses in this sector are micro, small and medium sized enterprises (MSMEs) that contribute to local economies and provide more than one million jobs, in particular lower skilled entry-level positions which are critical for the country’s future.

Yet SMEs in the tourism sector face hazards on an almost daily basis. Weak and failing public utilities, social unrest and crime (increasingly cybercrime), poor exchange rate, political disruption and COVID-19 restrictions pose critical challenges to business continuity. The pandemic in particular has made the business case (in every sector) for a much greater emphasis on business resilience.

Join Francis Herd (moderator), Dragan Radic (Head of ILO SME Unit), Themba Khumalo (Acting CEO & Chief Marketing Officer, SA Tourism), Phakamile Hlazo (CEO, Zulu Nomad) David Frost (CEO, SATSA) and Mandisa Magwaxaza, Co-vice chairperson, SATSA) as they discuss how South Africa’s potential as a tourism destination can be fully realised.

Among other questions, the event explored: (1) the most pressing resilience challenges that MSMEs in South Africa’s tourism sector currently face, (2) the role that business membership organizations and public sector can play in promoting resilience across the sector, and (3) how business resilience can be leveraged as a comparative brand for tourism in South Africa.

The Business Day Dialogue was held in the framework of the "Resilient and Sustainable Enterprises in Tourism" (RESET) project implemented by the ILO with the support of the Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ) GmbH on behalf of the German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ). It aims to improve the resilience of small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) in the tourism sector.