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CAPE TOWN - The Western Cape’s popularity as a tourism destination for international visitors is central to the growth of the tourism sector in South Africa, according to Enver Duminy, chief executive of Cape Town Tourism.

Duminy was commenting on the State of Tourism report 2015/16 recently released by Statistics South Africa.

He said the direct contribution of travel and tourism to the global gross domestic product (GDP) grew by 3.1% last year compared to 2015.

“It is estimated that this will grow by 3.8% in 2017 compared to 2016. The direct and total contribution of tourism to the global GDP was about 3.% ($2.306bn) and 10.2% ($7 613.3bn) in 2016, respectively.

“Despite challenges such as fires and water restrictions, as well as economic dips, the sector continues to grow and provide opportunities for locals to start businesses. It’s essential that, where possible, multi-stakeholder participation and engagement takes place so that risks can be addressed and support offered to all tourism professionals.”

Duminy added that the success of initiatives such as Air Access - spearheaded by Wesgro, together with Cape Town Tourism, the Western Cape Government, the City of Cape Town and Airports Company of South Africa - have seen multiple direct international flights added to Cape Town and numerous hotel developments that highlight investor confidence.

Arrivals

Economic Opportunities MEC Alan Winde said the Western Cape has seen tremendous growth in its tourism sector, with international arrivals growing by more than 18% last year and growth of 16% in the province’s domestic tourism market.

“Since the launch of our Project Khulisa growth strategy in 2014, tourism jobs have also grown by more than 20000. Improved air access has played a role in driving this growth and we are looking forward to sharing some exciting updates in this regard over the next few weeks.”

According to the State of Tourism report and Domestic Tourism Performance, domestic tourism plays a role in the tourism sector as it generates more than half the international tourism revenue.

The report said that regardless of an increase of 3.2% in the number of adult domestic tourists travelling in 2015 compared to 2014, there was a decline of 12.5% in domestic tourism trips during the same period and that domestic tourism trips continued to decline last year with a declining growth of 0.7% compared to 2015.

The report showed that total domestic spend went up by a double digit growth of 12.3% last year compared to 2015, which was an improvement for a growth of 6.2% recorded in 2015 compared to 2014 and that domestic tourism should continue to be encouraged as the potential impact of this market is far greater than that of the international market.

The report also said that business tourism held great potential with 10% domestic tourists travelling for business purposes, alongside 11% holiday trips in 2015 and that seasonality needs to be improved as the seasonality index for domestic trips worsened from 22.1% in 2015 to 24% last year as South Africans tend to travel more during school holidays.

Reasons

The top three reasons for not travelling in 2015 were affordability, time constraints and no reason to travel.

The report also said that performance travel and tourism-related industries had shown continuous growth over the 2015/16 period and the statistics released by Stats SA showed that the accommodation industry had steady growth.

It said that the hotel industry showed high levels of growth and investment last year, but guest houses and other establishments had not shown major growth during the period.

The report said that to ensure increased growth for both large and small establishments in the accommodation industry, players needed to adapt to the sharing economy platform, alongside the current trends and movements within technology. A major opportunity was the meetings industry.

According to the report, the economic impact of tourism in South Africa, showed that South Africa’s economy had a low growth of 1.3% over the 2014 to 2015 period, although the tourism direct gross domestic product continued to show substantial growth at 3.9% during 2015 compared to 2014, directly contributing R118.9 million to GDP, representing 3% of the country’s economy.

This showed that the tourism sector remained one of the fastest-growing economic sectors, contributing directly about 4.5% to total employment.

-BUSINESS REPORT