By Dr. Lyndon Bouah, Chief Director of Sport and Recreation at the Department of Cultural Affairs and Sport, Western Cape Government, South Africa

The Western Cape Province is one of nine provinces in South Africa. The biggest city of the province is Cape Town. The Western Cape is renowned for its natural beauty and scenery. Due to this advantage, many sport federations have used the Western Cape to stage sport and recreation events. The Western Cape Department of Cultural Affairs and Sport is one of the departments resorting under the Provincial Government of the Western Cape and one of its aims and objectives are to promote sport and also sport tourism to the province. In 2012 the Department commissioned the University of the Western Cape (UWC) to conduct a Case for Sport. The Case for Sport would examine the social and economic benefits of sport and recreation in the province.

Some of the key findings summarized in the executive summary include:

  • The research showed that sport and recreation makes a substantive and significant contribution to the socio-economic development of the Province in real terms. As a matter of fact, the research showed that the benefits of sport for socio-economic development are largely underestimated and that sport and recreation should be viewed as an important economic contributor and employment creator. In social terms various impacts are evident.
  • The findings of Phase 1 of the research is confirmed where it was found that In terms of economic contribution, GDP and employment, and using 2% as a conservative estimate (given the recorded 2.1% national average of GDP contribution to sport), and the most appropriate economic multipliers, the BER research conducted for this study found that sport contributed in excess of R8.8 billion to the Western Cape GDP annually since 2012; It is probable that the impact of sport and related activities on regions such as the Western Cape, Gauteng and Kwazulu-Natal might be significantly larger in percentage terms than the assumed national average; and sport supported in excess of 60 000 jobs in the Western Cape spread across all sectors. The current research was based on a high-level assessment only and of a conservative nature and more in-depth research is required to reach a definitive contribution.
  • The research has shown that major opportunities exist to position sport and recreation as a sector with a comparative advantage in increasing economic growth and tourism as well as related employment and social development in a Province that is extremely well positioned to do so as a leading destination, inter alia due to the natural resource-based economy. Various cross-sectoral linkages exist, also in other industries, such as the catering and hospitality industry and the cost competitive advantages that these sub-sectors have to offer.
  • Sport and recreation in the Province are closely linked with sport and cultural events and the environment acts as pull-factor for tourism and the hospitality industry. The Province has a competitive edge in offering mega and large sport and recreation events as a destination and the further implementation of the Provincial Events Strategy is a priority. Cultural and community based sport and recreation events are an important priority in the context of the weak and vulnerable socio-economic conditions that our communities find themselves in.