Decent Work in the South African Tourism Industry: Evidence from Tourist Guides

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40 Citations (Scopus)


Within tourism scholarship in general and in African tourism in particular, there is a paucity of research relating to employment conditions in the tourism industry. In South Africa, this knowledge gap is acute in light of the vital role of tourism in national government strategies for employment creation and of the emphasis given to promoting 'decent work'. This article uses a mixed methods approach to examine work conditions of South African tourist guides. The findings reveal the majority of tourist guides are in precarious or vulnerable forms of temporary short-term work, much of which is outside of existing labour regulations. The largest share of tourist guides are white males with limited careers spent in tour guiding. Many guides are retired or semi-retired from other professions and often engaged in the activity for lifestyle rather than economic motivations. The findings of this study challenge South African policy makers about the nature of decent work in tourism.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)89-103
Number of pages15
JournalUrban Forum
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Mar 2014


  • Decent work
  • South Africa
  • Tourism employment
  • Tourist guides

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Geography, Planning and Development
  • Urban Studies


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