Tourism boom on way

2013-09-13 00:00

SOUTH Africa is on the cusp of a major tourism boom, but it will only materialise if local tourism businesses can resist the temptation to put up their prices as the number of tourists continues to climb.

This is according to Anton Roelofse, regional general manager of Business Partners Limited, a financier to small and medium enterprises (SMEs). Reflecting on the state of the industry as it enters tourism month, Roelofse sees several factors combining to create a “perfect spring” for one of the country’s most important job-creating sectors.

The most dramatic contributor was the fall of the rand by as much as 25% over the past 20 months or so, which made South Africa a sought-after affordable tourism destination.

“Combined with other factors such as the awakening of a fast-growing African middle class to the pleasures of tourism, and the lingering afterglow of the 2010 World Cup, the weak rand could usher in an unprecedented tourism boom.”

He added that the green shoots of a tourism “spring” are visible everywhere, from the attitudes of recent visitors, through to the amount of money that these visitors are willing to spend. According to a South African Tourism Index, the estimated total foreign direct spend in South Africa in the first quarter of this year was R1,4 billion more than the R7,1  billion spent in the same quarter a year ago.

“Even though spend from domestic tourism was down from the previous year, it remains a sizeable market, at R3,8 billion in the first quarter of this year.

“The fact that the number of domestic tourists has remained unchanged highlights that South African citizens are keen to travel, but that they do not want to pay exorbitant prices.”

Roelofse says that these figures suggest that, in line with their willingness to spend, the attitudes of inbound tourists are also growing more positive.

A whopping 87,6% of the 2,5 million visitors in the first quarter of this year reported no negative experience in South Africa.

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