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Stats show SA tourism and hospitality set to boom

Tourist arrival figures are 480% up on 2021 numbers

Gill Gifford Senior journalist
Cape Town is one of SA's top destinations for overseas tourists.
Cape Town is one of SA's top destinations for overseas tourists.
Image: lmeispencer / 123rf.com

Figures released by Statistics SA (Stats SA) show tourism is rocketing, with the number of arrivals from January to May a whopping 480% up on last year’s figures over the same period.

The hotel industry saw the biggest increase, accounting for the bulk of income from accommodation.

This is off the back of a 61.6% year-on-year increase in tourist accommodation income in May 2022.

Rosemary Anderson, national chairperson of Fedhasa — the umbrella association representing SA’s hospitality industry — said the tourism and hospitality sectors are on track for a recovery and positive rebound after the knock taken during the pandemic.

“Chaos in airports across some of our key source markets is not making international travel easy, but long-haul visitors are determined to make the journey. According to hospitality benchmarking firm STR, the upward May trajectory we have seen in the accommodation space increased in June, but we are still under 50% occupancies nationally.”

Year-to-date figures released by STR were much better than those published at this time in 2021.

“We’ve gone from a national occupancy in 2021 of 31% to 50%, with the clear winners in higher occupancies being KwaZulu-Natal, Limpopo, Mpumalanga and the Eastern Cape.”

She believes international tourist stronghold, the Western Cape, will continue to attract growing numbers of inbound visitors, with the strongest inbound market now the US, with Europe the other main source market.

“The opportunity exists for the Western Cape to increase its occupancies; perhaps by providing an even more compelling offer for swallows and remote workers,” Anderson said. 

“SA has for many years been a destination of choice for more mature visitors who choose to spend the northern hemisphere winter in sunnier surrounds. It is also consistently cited as a favourable destination for remote workers. However, our visa system does not cater to these types of travellers.”

Waiving visas for key markets, scrapping unnecessary requirements and the creation of special visas for visitors wanting to stay long term but fund themselves, would push growth further in the tourism and hospitality sectors.


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