What’s in store for SA travel sector: Staycations, value for money and unique experiences
As the world is navigating safe forms of travels, travellers need to ensure that they are keeping safe during the pandemic.
Lee-Anne Bac and Christelle Grohmann, directors in Advisory Services at BDO, believe that it's going to take another two or three years before the country sees anything resembling pre-Covid visitor numbers and revenues.
They said the pandemic has devastated average consumer disposable income globally and predict what’s in store for South Africa’s travel sector this December.
"While those who cannot afford to travel will stay at home, those who can seek out value-for-money experiences that are easy on a cash-strapped wallet. This is an opportunity for regional tourism boards, travel service providers and industry members to offer discounted bundled packages across the tourism value chain.
"We need more partnerships that incentivise multi-service provider buy-ups, for example, accommodation packages that include preferential car hire rates, access to nearby tourist attractions, as well as restaurant meals at special prices.
"This appeals to cost-conscious travellers by helping them budget their holiday spend. It also spreads revenue across the tourism industry and other secondary service sectors," said Bac.
The duo said the reopening of borders to foreign visitors is unlikely to pose a higher risk to South Africans than the current in-country risk due to strict Covid travel protocols.
"It’s key that travellers and service providers follow (and enforce) Covid protocols like wearing masks in public, maintaining social distancing and washing hands regularly to minimise the spread of the virus.
“Internationally, we’ve already seen how second-wave spreads often mean a return to more stringent lockdowns, which would only strangle the tourism sector further," added Grohmann.
Regional travellers are more likely to look for leisure experiences on the African continent than venture abroad. The pair said this is the perfect chance for South Africa to market all those attractions that make us unique.
They advise that the country should market its warm coastal waters, pristine beaches, cultural and historical attractions and shopping experiences.
"We’re expecting to see more staycations this year as South Africans try to save money and/or avoid the potential risk of infections in crowded tourist hubs. This means more frequent day trips close to home and rediscovering nearby cultural sites, local attractions and nature destinations," the duo explained.
"Due to budget, those who have the option will likely stay at their holiday homes and timeshare, rather than spend money on other types of accommodation. Self-catering units, B&Bs and AirBnbs are also expected to see more footfall than larger hospitality establishments that are generally busier during the holiday season."
Lesser-known destinations on the outskirts of major tourist hubs are predicted to be the biggest winners if they market themselves well.
"It's going to take a long time before we return to some form of normalcy within the tourism industry. 2023 is likely to be the earliest that we will see a return to 2019 revenue levels and tourism numbers.
“In the meantime, we need to do all we can to nurture our scarce natural resources – the people within the tourism sector – so remember to stay and buy local and help secure the survival of our tourism and hospitality industry," added Bac and Grohmann.