South African tourism graduates? perceptions of decent work in the Western Cape tourism industry

04 Aug 2017

The 2011 National Tourism Sector Strategy (NTSS) adopted the concept of sustainable development towards decent work as a strategic objective of priority in the South African tourism industry. This objective is relevant to tourism graduates, as they are susceptible to decent work deficits and are abandoning the labour sector for which they created expectations and were highly trained for. The focus of this study was to establish tourism graduates? perceptions of decent work in the Western Cape tourism industry. A qualitative research approach was adopted using a structured interview guide to collect primary data. The target population was limited to 135 tourism graduates of the Cape Peninsula University of Technology?s BTech in Tourism Management programme, who completed their studies between the years 2010 and 2014. Stratified sampling and snowball sampling techniques were used to obtain a representative sample of 40 tourism graduates. Primary data were analysed using Leximancer software. The key findings of the study reveal that the majority of the respondents were dissatisfied with their current tourism jobs. This was attributed to a predominance of precarious tourism work conditions such as long and stressful hours, poor job security, slim chances for career progression as most organisations are family-run; and most commonly low salaries, as well as no health care or retirement plan benefits, and inaccessibility of decent work as tourism qualifications are apparently not valued in the tourism labour market. Tourism role players should collaborate to establish decent work focus areas as a step towards addressing decent work deficits in the tourism industry.