Johannesburg - Business performance was significantly lifted by the weak exchange rate and strong overseas leisure demand, according to the Tourism Business Council of SA (TBCSA) FNB Tourism Business Index (TBI) released on Tuesday.

“Over the past two years, we've seen constrained overseas leisure demand, particularly from our traditional source markets, such as the United Kingdom,” TBCSA chief executive Mmatati Ramawela said in a statement.

“We are encouraged to see a rebound in the market but also recognise that there is growing demand for both leisure and business travel in emerging markets within regional Africa and the BRIC (Brazil, Russia, India, China) countries.”

According to the index, some of the industry's good performance could be attributed to the improved economic conditions in the global environment.

The TBI is composed of two sub-indices - accommodation and other tourism businesses.

The industry recorded an overall index of 112.4 in the first quarter of 2014 which was lower than the 114.6 achieved in the previous quarter.

The quarterly index was compiled by Grant Thornton and also highlighted improved marketing and positive media coverage as contributing factors.

Grant Thornton advisory services head Gillian Saunders said the index survey included questions on the likely impact of the May 7 national elections on business.

“When taking into account both the accommodation and other tourism businesses, more than half (56.3 percent) of respondents are of the opinion that the elections will not have an impact on business, with some citing the possibility of an increase in leisure demand as an implication of the voting day being declared a public holiday.”

Thirty seven percent were expecting a negative impact from the elections, Saunders said. - Sapa