Did you know?

  • Tourism has become one of the fastest growing and most important economic sectors in the world.
  • Tourism records growth rates outpacing world economic growth and international trade.
  • Tourism is one of the main global export categories.
  • Tourism generates 10% of world jobs.
  • It is estimated that one job in the core tourism sector creates about one-and-a-half additional or indirect jobs in the tourism-related economy.

Although tourism’s role in job creation is often undervalued, it has at times been considered to be the biggest industry in the world. I wouldn’t have paid much attention to it myself, until I entered the industry in the years leading up to the 2010 Soccer World Cup. When South Africa won the bid to host the prominent tournament, our country came together like never before. The excitement to showcase our best offerings presented limitless possibilities since the world would surely be watching. As the first African country to host the competition in the tournament’s history, the pressure was ON all of us to set the benchmark and shift the world’s perception of what has in the past been known as ‘the Dark Continent’.

Before the age of 25, I had travelled the length and breadth of our beautiful country. Entering the sector from a transformation perspective, my role entailed gaining an understanding of how the opportunities presented by the world stage would translate into sustainable prospects for the ordinary Joe. My experience at the vibrant time was eye opening to say the least. From seeing four-roomed family homes, turning one bedroom into accommodation, and naming it a BnB; to meeting regular people accessing training to become tour operators, and everything in between. I was truly amazed at how resourceful people could be in earning a respectable livelihood for themselves and their families. 

Tourism sector

Since 1980, September 27th has been celebrated as World Tourism Day. Led by the United Nations World Tourism Organisation (UNWTO), its purpose is to foster awareness among the global community of tourism’s social, cultural, political and economic value. The organisation highlights the contribution the sector can make in reaching the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) – in particular SDG 8, for its potential to create decent work. This year the overarching focus is on skills, education and jobs, where the theme has been pronounced as ‘Tourism and Jobs: a better future for all’.

The UNWTO represents 158 countries, 6 Associate Members and over 500 Affiliate Members representing the private sector, educational institutions, tourism associations and local tourism authorities. The agency encourages the implementation of the Global Code of Ethics for Tourism, to maximize tourism’s socio-economic contribution worldwide while minimizing its possible negative impacts.

New policies are currently being explored to reflect and incorporate ongoing advances in technology, as well as to maximize tourism’s potential to create more and better jobs, especially for women and youth. This requires a holistic approach to the future of work in tourism, with heightened cooperation between all players along the spectrum.

“Humanity is now faced with a stark choice: Evolve or die. … If the structures of the human mind remain unchanged, we will always end up re-creating the same world, the same evils, the same dysfunction.” – Eckhart Tolle

Innovation in the new age

Trends such as globalization, technological progress and demographic change have together redefined the tourism sector and how it functions today. At the heart of our now hyper-connected, hyper-informed world is a digital-led revolution in markets, the demand for skills and unique characteristics of tourism jobs. Recent years have seen the emergence of digital breakthroughs, including new platform tourism services in the collaborative economy, big data and geo-localization.

Some of the main issues the tourism sector now faces in adapting to the technological revolution include the need to review and update outdated legislation and regulation that supports employment, innovation, entrepreneurship and new business models. The low level of awareness and expertise of new technologies and technological trends is also under consideration.

It is reported that Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises (MSMEs) are currently the major job creators in tourism. OECD/ILO research shows that around half of tourism employees work in enterprises of fewer than 10 people, while around three-quarters work in enterprises of fewer than 50 people. Tourism MSMEs have proven themselves to be an important source of innovation and economic diversification, helping to shape socio-economic development in destination countries worldwide.

Connecting technology, people and experiences

While tourism’s role in employment generation and entrepreneurship is often underestimated and undervalued in policy formulation and implementation, this leaves the door wide open for innovators with a bird’s eye view and comprehensive understanding of the sector to prove its worth and contribution to the global economy. Enter Airbnb

Founded in 2008, this dynamic global company is built around the idea that everyone should be able to take the perfect trip, including where they stay, what they do, and who they meet. Evolving their approach and offering over time, today they empower millions of people around the world to use their spaces, passions, and talents to become entrepreneurs. They recognise the challenges that may lie ahead in terms of new regions, technologies and business. However they have chosen to see these as exciting, demonstrating the enterprise’s energising DNA.

“At the heart of our mission is the idea that people are fundamentally good and every community is a place where you can belong. I sincerely believe that [discrimination] is the greatest challenge we face as a company. It cuts to the core of who we are and the values that we stand for.” – Brian Chesky, CEO and Co-founder

Building an inclusive platform for all hosts and guests is Airbnb’s greatest goal, and what I love about it is that they are always working to improve it. Guided by four core values (champion the mission, be a host, embrace the adventure and be a cereal entrepreneur), the company is determined to meet challenges creatively with the support of their interwoven, diverse global community. Airbnb is proving that they are literally for everyone and they continue to invest in building more accessibility into their offerings for both hosts and travellers. 

Airbnb Experiences Programme

As a partner, in my capacity as an Experiences Global Ambassador, I can truly attest to how they are committed to creating a world where everyone belongs. I am working with their internationally diverse and dedicated team to discover authentic activities that create real connections with people locally and in different areas worldwide. Together, we are making belonging anywhere a solution available everywhere.

Hosts are entrepreneurial-minded people, based anywhere on the globe, who have a passion for sharing their community and area of interest with curious guests from all over the world. See it as a way to establish an additional revenue stream. I work with potential hosts to upload their existing experience or to create a high quality experience that transforms people’s perceptions. We are always looking for hosts to join our global platform and community to provide:

1.    General tours focused on creating experiences relating to: 

  • Food & Drink
  • Landmarks/History
  • Arts
  • Nighttime
  • Music
  • Entertainment
  • Animals
  • Sports
  • Nature
  • Beauty & Shopping
  • Health & Wellness

2.    Social impact tours focused at reaching projects with a social focus, allowing them to build a new revenue stream in diversifying their income by creating meaningful experiences for tourists; and

3.    Adapted experiences focused at providing travel packages for the underserved community of disabled tourists. 

Once the experience is created, you will submit it for review to the Airbnb Experiences team for their consideration to ensure that it subscribes to the experience listing quality criteria. There is literally a WORLD of information here to guide you through the simple process. If you are keen to earn money by sharing activities you love with people from all over the world, join our community as a host of a unique experience. Follow this link https://www.airbnb.com/c/phindiled17?currency=ZAR to get started. 

Adding a new revenue stream

I’m not suggesting that you quit your day job. But consider how you may be able to take advantage of the opportunities that the tourism industry has to offer. That’s what today is all about – shining a light and creating awareness of the possibilities available to create a better future for yourself and your community through tourism.

So I challenge you get your creative juices flowing and encourage you to design a personalised experience for groups or individuals that captures you, and add it to the platform so that people from around the globe can have access to you. For more information, drop me a line on airbnb@phindiledhlamini.com. I’d love to connect with you. Let’s be a part of the better future!