Foreign tourism in South Africa sees a rebound, aided by the African market

Foreign Tourism in South Africa
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SUMMARY- FOREIGN TOURISM IN SOUTH AFRICA RECOVERS AS VISITOR NUMBERS APPROACH PRE-PANDEMIC LEVELS, LED BY INTRA-AFRICA TRAVEL. OVERSEAS TOURISM LAGS DUE TO LIMITED FLIGHTS AND SAFETY CONCERNS, WHILE ACCOMMODATION SECTOR SEES MIXED RESULTS WITH 5-STAR HOTELS PERFORMING WELL.

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Foreign tourism in South Africa is on the rebound, showing promising signs of recovery. Despite the challenges posed by the pandemic, the start of 2023 has brought positive numbers, indicating a potential return to pre-pandemic levels.

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Influx of Visitors Surpasses Previous Years

During the first four months of 2023, South Africa has witnessed an influx of visitors surpassing the figures from previous years. This resurgence offers hope for the recovery of the tourism industry in the country. The rebound in foreign tourism in South Africa is largely driven by visitors from other African countries. African tourist arrivals have surpassed the numbers from 2019 by 9%, reflecting a faster recovery compared to overseas tourists.

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Although regional tourists may not be high spenders, they play a vital role in driving the overall recovery of South Africa’s tourism industry.

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In contrast, the recovery of overseas tourism has been slower. The sector continues to face challenges, with a 17% decline in arrivals during the first four months of 2023 compared to the same period in 2019. Limited affordable flights, competition from more budget-friendly destinations, a rise in intra-European travel, and concerns about safety and infrastructure issues contribute to the slower return of overseas tourists to South Africa.

While some overseas markets have shown growth, including the Russian, UAE, and New Zealand markets, others like China and Brazil are yet to return to pre-pandemic levels. European markets, including France, Italy, Germany, and the UK, also face challenges in recovering their tourism figures.

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Impact on Accommodation Sector

The impact of the foreign tourism rebound in South Africa varies in the accommodation sector. Five-star hotels have experienced positive growth in occupancies and average room rates, surpassing the 2019 levels in some markets. However, 3-star hotels face challenges with low occupancies and rates that have persisted since the pandemic.

Factors such as the slow recovery of domestic business travel, budget cuts affecting government employees’ travel, and lower overseas tourist numbers contribute to the challenges faced by 3-star and 4-star hotels. The weak economy and cost-cutting measures also impact corporate travel budgets, while middle-class travelers have yet to return in significant numbers.

READ: The Egyptian Government Plans to Sell Stakes in State-Owned Hotels: Minister

Looking Forward to Continued Recovery

South Africa’s tourism industry is optimistic about its recovery. Foreign tourism in South Africa is gradually returning to pre-pandemic levels, presenting opportunities for sustained growth in the future.

The future performance of the tourism sector depends on several factors, including the availability of affordable flights, competition from other destinations, perceptions of safety, and the reopening of borders in key source markets.

To ensure sustained growth and recovery, South Africa’s tourism industry aims to attract more tourists from African countries while exploring untapped markets like China. Addressing the challenges that hinder overseas tourism will be crucial in creating an inviting environment for visitors and supporting the recovery process.

READ: The Booming Tourism Business in Africa: Opportunities for Hotel Development

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