Despite the weaker Rand, international tourist arrivals have not increased dramatically as one would have expected. Tourism Minister Derek Hanekom has encouraged locals, who are less likely to support international travel, to explore their own country instead.
Various Domestic Tourism ‘Sho’t Left’ marketing campaigns have been unsuccessful in encouraging Domestic Tourism, and we have criticized the campaigns as being ineffective in the past! SA Tourism has had to admit that these campaigns have not achieved the goal of increasing travel by locals. Addressing Parliament’s Portfolio Committee on Tourism, Minister Hanekom said that his department will intensify their marketing campaign aimed at locals.
Minister Hanekom also stated that despite a difficult 2015, the Visa Regulation turn-around should improve international tourism to our country. For example, accredited travel agents in China can accept unabridged birth certificates when booking holidays for their clients in our country, without the family having to visit a South African mission personally. The situation in Russia and India ‘required more work‘, said the Minister.
The appointment of a new CEO for South African Tourism will commence shortly, according to the Minister.
Stats SA figures reveal that international arrivals in November 2015 decreased by 7% relative to the same period a year prior. Tourist numbers from the SA and Germany showed an increase, while those from the UK a small decrease. Tourist numbers to our country declined by 600000 until November 2015, compare to the twelve-month period before. Tourism growth has been minimal in the past two years, according to tourism consultancy Grant Thornton.
Internationally tourism growth has been 4% between November 2014 and 2015. Locally, Cape Town Tourism members have fed back in a survey that only 57% of its members experienced tourism growth, while 28% experienced no growth at all. In the last quarter of last year it appears that tourism to our city improved, with a 9% increase in arrivals at Cape Town Internatinal, the largest ever. Visitors to Cape Town appear to be younger, and enjoying the city’s adventure offering.
The Tourism Business Council of South Africa Tourism Business Index for the last quarter of 2015 was 106,5, an above-average performance, and the third highest 4th quarter performance since 2011. Expectations for the first quarter of this year is an Index of 95. Domestic tourism increased, and benefited KwaZulu-Natal and the Western Cape the most, especially over the Festive Season.
Business closures were mentioned, reducing the supply of accommodation establishments in 2015 in particular, and not a good reflection of the tourism industry, reflecting businesses being under ‘tremendous pressure’, due to cost increases, poor demand, and ‘uncertainty in government policies affecting the industry‘, no doubt referring to the Visa Regulation debacle. Given the importance of Tourism as a stimulant to growth in our economy, this is a worrying trend and one which should not continue.
Chris von Ulmenstein, WhaleTales Blog: www.whalecottage.com/blog Tel 082 55 11 323 Twitter:@WhaleCottage Facebook: click here