SA tourism sector on track to regain pre-Covid numbers

A hiker trekking the Tsitsikamma forest to start the world-renowned Otter Trail. Picture: Armand Hough/African News Agency (ANA)

A hiker trekking the Tsitsikamma forest to start the world-renowned Otter Trail. Picture: Armand Hough/African News Agency (ANA)

Published Jul 19, 2022


Durban - The South African tourism sector, one of the hardest hit economically by the Covid-19 pandemic, has shown positive signs with income for tourist accommodation increasing by 86.6% for the year ending May 2022.

This, according to a Statistics South Africa report published this week.

The 86.6% increase includes restaurants, bar sales and “other” income.

The hotel industry saw the biggest increase in its revenue for the year-on-year period, accounting for bulk of the income from accommodation.

“Income from accommodation increased by 61.6% year-on-year in May, the result of a 31.9% increase in the number of stay unit nights sold and a 22.5% increase in the average income per stay unit night sold.

“In May, the largest contributors to the 61.6% year-on-year increase in income from accommodation were: hotels (93.2% and contributing 44.5 percentage points),” the report said.

Guest-houses, guest-farms and “other” accommodation increased by 56% and 32% respectively.

Caravan parks and camping sites experienced a 4.5% reduction in revenue for the same period.

Tourists take photos from an open-top sightseeing bus on Table Mountain Road. Picture: Armand Hough/African News Agency (ANA)

Despite the sector suffering heavily in the wake of the political unrest in July last year and the strict travel restrictions imposed during the course of the virus, South Africa’s tourism industry is on the road to recovery, said Minister Lindiwe Sisulu.

Sisulu said working together with all tourism stakeholders had helped rebuild the industry, but more work was required to restore the sector to pre-Covid numbers.

To grow the sector even further, she said there will be two flights from America which will be flying directly to Cape Town.

“The relaxation of Covid regulations, especially for international tourists, has assisted greatly. Domestic tourism has also held the fort during Covid and the resilience by tourism stakeholders can be attributed to this increase. South Africa is a great tourism destination and the country is open for business,” the minister said.

“This is because the government has made it easy for investors to invest in our country.”

In May, the SA tourism board signed a memorandum of understanding with IAE-based company, Emirates, to boost tourism to and from the region.

“The Middle East is a critical market for South Africa so this partnership will be very instrumental in ensuring ease of access to and from South Africa for travellers from this region. This will increase direct airlift, making room for more travellers, and as our tourism sector recovers we look forward to welcoming more visitors from the Middle East.” said South African Tourism acting chief executive, Themba Khumalo.

“For more than 25 years we have invested in, and grown our operations to, South Africa. We’re working hard to restore our services to pre-pandemic levels to help generate more opportunities for travellers from around the world to experience South Africa’s unique natural experiences, world-renowned cuisine and local culture,” said Adnan Kazim, Emirates’ chief commercial officer.

Earlier this year, the minister attended the 2022 African Travel Indaba at the ICC in Durban, which attracted investors and tourism businesses from across the continent and world.

The government rolled out the red carpet for its visitors, hoping the event would spark the old flame, that is the South African tourism sector.

Lindiwe Rakharebe in red coat chief executive of the Durban ICC with Lindiwe Sisulu Minister of Tourism Development and Environmental Affairs with Nancy Q Sam Economic Tourism private sector in Zambia at the opening of Africa Travel Indaba at Durban ICC. Picture: Bongani Mbatha/African News Agency (ANA)