SA tourism growing three times faster than overall economy

Published on : Friday, December 7, 2018

SA’s tourism sector is growing roughly three times faster than the overall economy, in spite of having a very difficult year.


Cape Town lost 15%-20% of its expected tourist arrivals due to doomsday messaging about Day Zero (when the taps would be turned off), and South Africa Airlines shed 13% of its seating capacity on international flights between March and September when it dropped several unprofitable routes.


However, the slack was compensated by other airlines, so overall seating capacity remained roughly flat on a year-on-year basis. Next year, it is expected to be up by 3.2%, according to Olivier Ponti, vice-president of international travel data analytics firm ForwardKeys.


SA’s tourism sector is internationally competitive but is underperforming compared to others. Boosting international tourism requires improving connectivity and easing visa entry. SA has moved backwards on both scores.


More than 13,000 travellers were refused entry to SA in the year to June 2016 for failing to meet unabridged birth certificate requirements, according to the Tourism Business Council. Although President Cyril Ramaphosa has said that visa requirements will be relaxed, it remains unclear as to when and how this will occur.


WTTC president Gloria Guevara Manzo believes that SA tourism minister Derek Hanekom has a sound tourism strategy and is doing best to ease SA’s visa requirements, but he needs to move faster and relax them further.


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