Glimmer of hope on the horizon for South African tourism sector
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South African Tourism said in a statement that all indications signal a glimmer of hope for the domestic tourism sector in the country.
The results from South African Tourism’s Domestic Survey for August 2020 show that domestic travel reached 62% of the 3.9 million trips seen in August 2019.
"This result indicates that the desire for domestic travel was high and that travel is expected to increase in the latter months of 2020. The most popular month for travel is December, where most South Africans intend on taking a much needed holiday," South African Tourism's statement revealed.
According to TrevPAR World, occupancy of 1015 hotels in South Africa during October was almost half (45%) of occupancy at the same time in 2019. A steady recovery of occupancy from May onwards can be seen with Year on Year comparison in occupancies increasing from 24% of 2019 in May to 45% of 2019 in October.
There was some recovery in occupancy for 3 to 5-star hotels, with the occupancy for October 2020 registering at 29.6% (the occupancy rate was 67% in October 2019). This signals a steady recovery from previous months in 2020 where the occupancy was 16,8% in May, 18.1% in June, 17.3% in July, 23.1% in August, 27.4% in September.
Similar trends can be seen for Airbnb occupancy with October occupancy at 59% of occupancies seen in 2019. Importantly, this was double the occupancy rate of September (30%).
According to Airports Company South Africa (ACSA), there has been an increase in domestic passenger movements between June and September 2020.
All three international airports in South Africa, OR Tambo International Airport (ORT), Cape Town International Airport (CTIA) and King Shaka International Airport have seen a month-on-month increase in passenger numbers from June to September 2020.
This increase indicates that there has been an upswing in domestic travel in recent months. As of September 6, ORT accounts for the biggest amount for domestic passenger traffic (277,825) followed by CTIA (183,590).
From a South African Tourism study conducted earlier in 2020, 35.7% of the respondents said they were looking forward to a beach experience in their first trip post lockdown, while 34.4% said they wanted to experience nature and scenic outdoors. Another 34.4% wanted to experience open spaces such as mountains, bush and hiking trails.
Additionally, one in three respondents said they would prefer accommodation establishments with clear communication about cleaning and safety protocols, while another 33% would prefer properties with fewer guests. Competitive pricing, health and safety guidelines, up-to-date information were important to travellers.
To meet the needs of the domestic tourism market, as a tourism sector, South African Tourism said products need to be priced at a desirable rate, that tourism products in South Africa have very clear Covid-19 protocols that are well communicated and consumers have information on products and experiences that are available to them while they are on their domestic trips.
Hygiene is an important driver for travel. All establishments catering for tourists must make a concerted effort to visibly demonstrate their commitment to maintaining the highest standards in hygiene by providing information on their websites and displaying the measures that they taking to keep their guests safe.
Travellers are looking for accommodation establishments and experiences that have implemented Covid-19 protocols to ensure that they and their family are safe during their travels. This, however, is coupled with fear, due to the rise in Covid-19 infections.