Chasing the bucks

2017-07-06 06:00

ABOUT two years ago I submitted to our tourism stakeholders that tough economic times were looming and I suppose the recent announcement that South Africa is in a recession is a culmination of those symptoms.

Although our value for money destination has generally sustained in these tough times, we have to acknowledge the economic realities that exist and how that does or could impact on our tourism economy.

Recent figures consulted from Tourism KwaZulu-Natal and SA Tourism and relating to comparative years 2015 to 2016 do not present a rosy picture for our province which like us relies very heavily on domestic tourism. Domestically, KZN market share dropped 23.7%, and consumer spend (2016 - R3,96 billion) some 28%.

Analysis of tourism related businesses indicated some shrinkage in enterprises such as accommodation establishments, tour operators, car hire companies, and restaurants.

While hotel occupancy is resilient (average of 66%), it is clear that the proprietor driven enterprises like BnBs/self catering, eateries and retail are feeling the pinch. Quite clearly the economy is biting and biting hard and we need to really chase the consumer purse in that very narrow band of affordability. People quite simply are taking fewer holidays or not at all to ensure that more urgent household obligations can be met.

Often enterprises address tight times by cost cutting and invest less in their marketing and promotion. One marketing guru once stated “cutting promotion means market demotion” and I concur with this principle.

Our greater South Coast has a very marketable product base and strong brand to which we are committed and aggressively market and promote. As they say, however, in a competitive world “you can lead a horse to water, but you cannot make it drink”.

Value of stay is in our opinion the primary straw that will have the visitor take that spending sip and in so doing I believe we will, going forward, buck the economic status quo.

All this being said our team is looking forward to promoting this great part of the world in Durban at the KZN Travel and Adventure Show from June 30 until July 9 and to our mid-year visitors, have a jolly and leisure-filled Sardine Season in our paradise.

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