In South Africa, the promotion of tourism has been identified as a key strategy that can lead to economic growth, community development and poverty alleviation. This appears to reflect that in the recent years, tourism has emerged as a significant development option in the post-apartheid South Africa. Tourism is perceived as an adopted strategy to creating more equitable economic growth in South Africa. According to the White paper on tourism (1996) the tourism sector is expected to be the leading economic sector in the country by 2014. The tourism industry is an integrated and multi-sectoral, aimed at poverty alleviation through pro-poor economic growth. The study looked at the socio-economic impacts of tourism on emerging tourism entrepreneurs in the George municipality. The study will contribute in increasing awareness of the socio-economic impacts of the tourism industry on emerging tourism entrepreneurs, who are mostly from the previously disadvantaged groups in South Africa. The study found that the tourism industry is contributing positively from a socio-economic perspective to the emerging tourism entrepreneurs, even though the majority of them are earning incomes very close and lower than what is considered a living wage in South Africa from their enterprises. It was found that tourism is helping to respond to the alleviation of poverty and the income earned is helping to respond to the basic needs of the entrepreneurs. Many of these entrepreneurs who are from poor backgrounds are also able to find employment in these enterprises. These enterprises are also seen to be providing a new type of tourist experience as many of them are focusing on cultural tourism products.
Key words: Tourism industry, entrepreneurs, income, and socio-economic impacts
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