Tourism suffers as recession takes hold

Kea' Modimoeng

Kea' Modimoeng

When Statistics South Africa releases February's tourist accommodation data today, the figures are expected to be the lowest since the 2006/2007 boom when we broke the nine-million tourist arrival mark.

Mmatsatsi Marobe, chief executive of Tourism Business Council of South Africa, said the booking numbers had been coming down in recent months.

"Some of our members have informed us that their hotel bookings have declined by about 15 to 20 percent and the international group bookings have decreased in number.

"Considering that most international bookings were made in advance, we are beginning to see the signs now," she said.

Marobe said if the markets did not improve, "by July 2009 we are expecting to see more serious implications of this recession".

She also noted that South African tourism would however be boosted by the current and upcoming sporting events.

Marobe said domestic tourism activity had not declined much but there were signs that some were starting to hold back.

She attributed the Easter tourism activity to the fact that some people had already booked in advance and "some had to travel because they have children who expect to go on holiday".