Tourism sector is on the rebound, but recovery could be trimmed by rise in inflation

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Seasonally adjusted income from accommodation slowed by 10.1% month-on-month in April. Getty Images
Seasonally adjusted income from accommodation slowed by 10.1% month-on-month in April. Getty Images

BUSINESS


The Tourism Business Council of SA (TBCSA) said the latest tourist accommodation figures showed the industry was on the rebound and was recovering some of its losses when compared to 2019 and the past two years of restrictions in movement.

On Monday, Statistics SA released the April tourist occupancy numbers, which showed an increase of 53.4% in tourist accommodation when compared to the same period in 2021.

Income from accommodation went up 43.5% year-on-year in April because of a 17.8% increase in the number of stay unit nights sold and a 21.8% increase in the average income per stay unit night sold.

Chief executive of TBCSA Tshifhiwa Tshivhengwa said:

The increase (is) in line with what we were expecting. The industry is really moving at a fast pace.

It means there’s a possibility that towards the end of the year, we could have many people and companies get into some sort of a full recovery compared to 2019.

We are comparing these figures to what we saw in 2019 because that year was normal for us.”

However, on a month-on-month basis, there was a significant slowdown in accommodation bookings in April compared to March, which saw an increase of 110.6%.

Tourism
Tshivhengwa said the fact that there is an increase in income and that occupancy is improving bodes well for the industry. Photo: Archive

READ: Where is the capital and growth?

Incomes were also slashed nearly half to 43.5% in April from 87.6% year-on-year in March this year. TBCSA said this could have been a result of the devastating floods in the KwaZulu-Natal province two months ago.

Seasonally adjusted income from accommodation slowed by 10.1% month-on-month in April. However, the business tourism council remained upbeat.

Tshivhengwa added:

The fact that there is an increase in income and that occupancy is improving bodes well for the industry.

Hotels took the larger share of overall accommodation bookings (adding 27.7% points) when compared to other forms of accommodation such as Airbnbs, which grew by 32.3% and added 14.5% points to the tourist accommodation numbers for April.

Tshivhengwa said the current rise in input costs such as fuel and concerns about global growth could eat away at the levels of the rebound the sector hoped to see this year.

“The increase in inflation and petrol price will impact domestic and international travel because prices might be impacted. The petrol, food and electricity prices have a direct impact on pricing. The level of the effect is yet to be measured, but it will be there.”

READ: Tourism stakeholders probe ‘aggressive and coordinated’ recovery plan post-pandemic

He added that the liquidation of Comair, which had 40% of the domestic seat capacity, will likely add to this and negatively impact on domestic travel and tourism if other airlines don’t close the gaping hole it left.

“It’s concerning that you’ve got 40% that’s taken off and when that happens, there’s a problem in terms of airlifts and bottlenecks. Will it impact recovery? Yes, it will in terms of movement. If people can’t travel to certain areas, they may stay home. It will also impact properties in the outlying areas, so, it’s quite a concern.”


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