Holidaymakers' R4bn February spend points to strong SA tourism growth

2017-04-19 10:08 - Louzel Lombard Steyn
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Cape Town - While domestic tourism has been declining over the past three years, new data from Statistics South Africa give a glimmer of hope for the accommodation industry specifically. 

For February 2017 alone, Stats SA has confirmed that the total income for the tourist accommodation industry increased by 3,6%, compared with February 2016. The increase marks an R4 billion injection in total into SA's economy for February alone. 

Tourism Business Council of South Africa (TBCSA) CEO Mmatšatši Ramawela told Traveller24 in an earlier report that the decrease in domestic leisure demand and business inputs has been a major concern for SA's tourism-dependent businesses, of which accommodation form an enormous chunk. 

Having just come off a bumper Easter period which saw more than a 1 million travellers pass through South Africa's ports of entry - the growth outlook certainly looks good. The figures included citizens and foreigners who visited and left the country through its 72 ports of entry, ministry chief of staff Patrick Williams told News24. 

SEE: Over one million people travelled through SA over Easter

Camping and caravaning 

In February 2017, caravan parks and camping sites - a massive domestic travelling group - showed the largest growth in income, a total of 24,6%. Although this type of accommodation only contributed R15,3 million to the total income, it showed the largest year-on-year growth from all categories - including guesthouses and hotels.

The camping and caravan industry has also been consistent in showing growth and according to tourism stakeholders, it's an industry that is very underutilized. 

DA minister of tourism James Vos points out, for example, that the National Department of Tourism (NDT) "must look into the numerous poorly developed and maintained government-funded tourist sites. More should be done to make government-owned resorts, parks, nature reserves and the like affordable to our citizens, he says. 

"Many resorts in small towns have become dysfunctional" and have become a huge liability for their respective municipalities, Vos says. "It is simply wrong to have these state resources stand vacant and under-utilised while there is a demand in certain market segments of our country." 

Booming hotel industry 

In terms of the largest contributor to income, the main financial injections to the 5,8% year-on-year increase could be seen from hotels, contributing 3% or a total of R3.1 billion to the industry. 

Understandably, the hotel industry is on the up and up in SA, and on the African continent as a whole in a bid to seize the increasing connectivity and travelling business market. 

SEE: SA bumps up hotels for growing business and leisure market

Calculating the 2016/2017 holiday season, from December 2016 to February 2017, income from accommodation increased by 5,8% during this time compared with the three months ended February 2016. 

This growth also points to an R6.5 billion influx in SA's economy from December 2016 to February 2017. 

The results presented by Stats SA are derived from the monthly survey of the tourist accommodation industry. This survey is based on a sample drawn from the 2016 business sampling frame (BSF) that contains businesses registered for value added tax (VAT). 

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