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The South African landscape is one which captivates and inspires the world over. Its beauty is so vast that it commandeers the attention of thousands of tourists annually. Boasting world-class resorts and lodges South Africa is without question the pulse of Africa.
But in the wake of the national lockdown, which laid waste to the tourism industry, what are the damage? And what are some of the prevalent changes, as the industry begins to regain traction?
But firstly, when looking at the local market, the Domestic Tourism Survey by Statistics South Africa (Stats SA) shows that the total expenditure on domestic trips incurred in 2019 was approximately R 204 billion. This constitutes day trip spending of about R125,2 billion, while expenditures on overnight trips amounted to approximately R78,9 billion.
The most considerable amount of money spent during day trips was on shopping (R66,2 billion), followed by domestic transport (R31,6 billion) and food and beverages (R21,0 billion).
During 2019, Gauteng, Limpopo and Western Cape were the most popular destinations for day travellers, whereas tourists (those who undertook overnight trips) mostly preferred visiting Limpopo, KwaZulu-Natal, Gauteng and the Eastern Cape.
And then 2020 hit. Tourism virtually shut down, leaving the industry dealing with unforeseen, extended challenges. The lockdown had such an adverse effect on the sector that Stats SA claimed the total income for tourist accommodation fell by 81.2% in August.
Flash forward but a few months, and now we are witnessing the rise of our glorious tourism industry once again. This confirmed by Investec’s Lara Hodes who recently said tourism activity had started picking up, this was helped by pent-up demand after inter-provincial leisure visits were authorised shortly mid-August under level 2.
As the country looks at revitalising the tourism industry, the Newcastillian – Online News speaks to Nazir Akram, of the Tingana Hospitality Group which oversees the spectacular Buckler’s Africa Lodge and Leopard Sands River Lodge in the Kruger.
Looking to the future, what is Akram’s forecast for the hospitality industry for the upcoming year?
Akram opens by explaining that while international tourism remains on the backburner, with little to no movement, the hospitality industry will now have to focus more on local tourism. He elaborates, “Packages will now need to be created in order to attract local tourists, which will entail making prices more affordable for guests.”
The reasoning for this, he explains, is due to lodges often catering more towards international visitors—by establishing a diverse approach in packages, the hospitality industry can draw on South Africans, wishing to explore the beauty of their country.
As an example of these “local friendly packages” and the cost changes therein, Tingana Hospitality Group is looking at packages which offer guests a discount of up to 60%.
But, while the Tingana Hospitality Group and other lodges offer tourists the opportunity to escape from their daily routines, Akram emphasises that the way of conducting business and interacting with holidaymakers has evolved.
He states, “The reality is that COVID-19 affected everyone and the way we do business, which even includes the way we greet customers.”
Adhering to the stipulated regulations as set out by the Government, the hospitality sector now needs to consider numerous factors, while implementing measures to cover all facets of their daily operations.
The losses reported in 2020 make those of 2008 appear to be “not too bad” for lack of a better term. However, as noted above, the fall of the tourism and hospitality industries were on a grand scale. Therefore, take the opportunity to enjoy the low rates around SA while supporting South African businesses.