Boost for property market in rising tourism numbers

The real value of tourism is its ability to create new businesses and jobs – which boost the economy but also, in a very real sense, give many more South Africans the opportunity to realise their dreams of becoming homeowners.
That’s the word from Richard Gray, CEO of Harcourts Real Estate, in reaction to the recent announcement by President Jacob Zuma that 9,2 million international tourists visited SA last year – a 10,2% increase on 2011.
“This was more than double the 4% global average in tourist growth as measured by the UN World Tourism Organisation, and shows that we are reaping the rewards of the enormous investment we all made in infrastructure, systems, security and training in preparation for the 2010 Soccer World Cup.”
But more importantly, he says, the President made much of the tourism industry’s huge potential to provide more youth business and employment opportunities, and said one of the specific aims of the National Tourism Strategy devised to put SA among the top 20 world tourism destinations by 2020 was to create at least 225 000 more direct jobs in the local tourism industry.
“The other is to boost the economic contribution of tourism to R500bn a year, which might seem like a stretch, but as it is, foreign tourists spent a total of R76,4bn in SA last year - up 7,6% on the total foreign direct spend in the country in 2011 – and much of this does appear to be filtering down to the grass roots. Our offices have for some time been seeing an increase in steady employment - and in home buying activity -in areas that have experienced an increase in tourism.
“And going a step further, tourism is now providing both the motivation and the means for many other South Africans to realise their dreams of starting their own successful businesses. This is clearly breathing new life into the local economiesand property markets of many small towns – inland and at the coast - as entrepreneurs seize the chance to open new guest-houses, for example, as well as craft and curio shops, restaurants and specialist tour guiding businesses.”
However, Gray says, tourism is where the tourists are, or want to be, and those who hope to benefit from its growth may have to move to a different suburb, town or even province. “And that’s where Harcourts comes in. The group has a very large geographic footprint, with branches in scores of cities and towns countrywide, and operates a very efficient referral system to assist people who are relocating.
“Indeed, whether you’re a young person starting your career in eco-tourism, a retiree opening a new tourism business at the coast or a parent looking to give your children a better quality of life in a picturesque country town, you can trust the Harcourts agency there to help you find the perfect new home.”

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