South Africa’s tourism industry is well-positioned for continued growth and if the industry plays it’s cards right, the sector is projected to generate an impressive 800 000 jobs and inject a substantial R287 billion into the national economy over the next decade.
Marc Wachsberger, the CEO of The Capital Hotels, Apartments and Resorts, said SA’s tourism industry had rebounded from the pandemic and found itself in a position to pursue aggressive growth since the nation and continent were amid a demographic boom that could signal the beginning of a prosperous period if managed correctly.
Wachsberger said that in the first quarter of 2023, the country welcomed more than two million visitors.
Even more encouraging was that the foreign direct spending for the period reached an impressive R25.3bn, a remarkable 143% surge from the same timeframe in 2022.
He said that with such positive indicators, the tourism industry was well-positioned for continued growth. Strong tourism sectors were founded on businesses that saw opportunity where others did not.
“Since 2010, Mbombela in Mpumalanga has seen virtually no new hotel development and the industry in the area was stagnating. That worsened when the pandemic hit and gutted the local and international demand.
“By seeing the pandemic as an opportunity and noticing how the area interacted with visitors from neighbouring Mozambique, The Capital Hotels, Apartments and Resorts was able to turn adversity into growth,” said Wachsberger.
He said that when it came to Mpumalanga, chaos created opportunities and the Mbombela property was an example of how well things could work out if one was not scared to make bold decisions based on trusted data, one’s team and one’s unique selling point.
“We developed that location during the pandemic and now it is one of the best performing properties in the group. Being able to capitalise on the tourist traffic from Maputo and a local audience starved for a modern hotel is a big reason for that,” said the CEO.
Wachsberger said the growth of the tourism and hospitality industry in the country was underpinned by the fact that Africa was open for business in a big way.
“Zimbabwe’s massive lithium deposits, Kenya’s mushrooming technology sector, a new oil refinery in Nigeria and demographics skewed towards the young and entrepreneurial, bode very well for the continent.
“As home to Africa’s busiest airport and with its relatively well-developed infrastructure, South Africa is the perfect intermediary for those looking to do business on the continent.”
He said that as the number of Indian, Chinese and other international business visitors continued to surge, South African hotels had emerged as meeting places providing sophisticated, reliable venues where people could experience service at an international level without being concerned about power supply issues.
“We’re not ones to rest on our laurels. We are currently doing about 30% better than most of our nearest competitors and would like to keep it that way.
“So, we are carefully looking at expansion plans into South African and thereafter, the rest of Africa. There will be some difficulties, but we believe key parts of the continent have the same fundamentals as South Africa, so we’re confident we can make it work.”
Wachsberger said that as one of the few sectors of the economy experiencing strong growth, tourism had the potential to provide some much-needed relief for people across the country.
“All it needs to make good on these gains is a regulatory framework that encourages innovation and businesses that are bold enough to see opportunities where others do not.”