Tag Archives: transit passengers

WhaleTales Tourism, Food, and Wine news headlines: 25 May

WhaleTalesTourism, Food, and Wine news headlines

*   Transit passengers, traveling with children through our country’s airports to other destinations, will not require supporting documentation such as unabridged birth certificates, to the relief of our neighboring countries.

*   The success of the Franschhoek Literary Festival has given it coverage in the New York Times, with an article focusing on the controversial nature of some of the sessions, especially the one at which Bongani Madondo spoke. The biographer of Continue reading →

Tourism sees strong UK dip in January 2013, after strong international growth in 2012!

SA Statistics has released the January 2013 tourism arrival statistics, and it is clear that our tourism industry is in trouble, the traditional source markets of the UK and Europe strongly down relative to the same month a year before, and American arrivals showing a minimal increase, as reported by Southern African Tourism Update.  Two of the BRICS countries, India and Brazil, continue to show strong growth.  In total tourism numbers declined by 4% to 202548 in January 2013, relative to a year ago.

The 19% decline in UK tourists is no surprise, as we have picked up the dramatic demise of UK tourists in the past two summers, due to that country’s economic recession, but still is ranked top as source country at 34393. America is the second largest source market, with 21330 arrivals. German tourists numbered 21101, a surprising decline of 6%.  France is in 6th place as a source country, with a slight decline in its arrivals. The Netherlands, another important source market. showed a decline of 18%, and is now in 8th place.

The decline in the UK arrivals is confirmed in an article in Breaking Travel News, which showed that UK travelers would be affected by the exchange rate in most countries, given the weak pound sterling, affecting their travel costs to the USA, Australia, and Europe.  Countries in which British travelers will not suffer the exchange rate so badly are Argentina, Brazil, and South Africa.  However, the higher cost of flights to these countries may cancel out the benefit of the lower exchange rates.

China surprisingly showed its first decline, by 4 %, and is ranked 4th on the tourism arrivals list, while arrivals from Brazil jumped by close to 13%.  Given tour operator Colin Bell’s discovery that the tourism arrival statistics include transit passengers, spending at least 24 hours in our country to be defined as such, it is interesting to note that about 40% of the Chinese and Brazil ‘tourist’ arrivals were in fact transit passengers travelling to another country from South Africa.  This does not apply to Indian tourists, the 15% increase in arrivals from this country reflecting the great work which is being done by SA Tourism in that country.  Its head, Hanneli Slabber, has just been recognised as Safari India National Tourism ‘Best Professional in Marketing’.

These depressing tourism arrival statistics were announced after Marthinus van Schalkwyk, national Minister of Tourism, shared at Indaba earlier this month that South Africa’s digital marketing activities have reached 1 billion people, reports themovechannel.com.  ‘Our video, banner and text adverts were displayed to the targeted audiences over 1,1 billion times’, in addition to marketing programs with CNN, National Geographic, Expedia, Facebook, TripAdvisor, and WAYN.com.  The Minister may not understand that duplication of exposure of South Africa’s advertising message would reduce the audience size.  The value of South Africa’s editorial coverage in international media is estimated at R4,6 billion.

Minister van Schalkwyk has reacted to the news that a development bank is being set up by the BRICS countries, and has said that it ‘will boost tourism among the nations’.  The increased business trips related  to setting up the development bank will be ‘prompting other tourists to follow suit’, the Tourism Minister said, according to The Telegraph. A Goldman Sachs report shows that the BRICS countries generated half the global economic growth in the last ten years.  Currently inter BRICS trade is valued at $230 billion, and is estimated to double in the next two years.

Minister van Schalkwyk was invited to lead a new United Nations World Tourism Organisation (UNWTO) commission on tourism and development, at a meeting yesterday of its Executive Council in Belgrade, working with a working group of France, Germany, Kenya, Jamaica, Egypt, Mexico, Republic of Korea, Mauritania, and Belgium, reports the Southern African Tourism Update.

We appeal again to Cape Town Tourism and Wesgro to market Cape Town and the Western Cape nationally and internationally, to counter the frighteningly low bookings for June and July, one of the worst winter seasons we have seen.

Chris von Ulmenstein, Whale Cottage Portfolio: www.whalecottage.com Twitter: @WhaleCottage

BRICS to become ‘centre of the tourism universe’, says SA Tourism Minister van Schalkwyk!

The BRICS summit held in Durban last week allowed the five BRICS member countries of Brazil, Russia, India, China, and South Africa to focus on their relationship with Africa, and to enhance their co-operation on tourism issues in a responsible and sustainable manner, said Minister of Tourism Marthinus van Schalkwyk at a pre-BRICS Summit function hosted by SA Tourism.

Minister van Schalkwyk highlighted that the five BRICS countries jointly represent 40% of the world population, more than 25% of the world’s land mass, and share some of the world’s most treasured cultural and heritage sites.  He also shared that tourism from emerging economy destinations will grow at double the growth rate (4%) of that of advanced economy destinations over the next twenty years, and that in two years from now the tourism numbers from emerging economy destinations (including Africa, Asia, and Latin America) will exceed that from advanced economy destinations (our current source markets of Europe, the UK and USA) for the first time.   This will make the BRICS countries the ‘centre of the tourism universe’, the Minister said.

Tourism numbers from BRICS countries to South Africa have grown by 21% in the past three years, almost double the rate of growth of the rest of the world, and by an astounding 39% in the January – November 2012 period.  China is in fourth position as a tourism source market, following the UK, USA, and Germany, with 122000 visitors in the first eleven months of 2012, while India is the eighth largest source market at 98000 visitors, followed by Brazil in ninth position with 71000 visitors.  One hopes that the China and Brazil tourism numbers quoted by the Minister exclude transit passengers, which SA Tourism had been counting as tourism numbers, identified by tour operator Colin Bell.

SA Tourism has focused some of its marketing activity on Brazil, China, and India in particular over the past few years:

*   joint marketing agreements have been signed with Chinese tour operators, direct SAA flights between Beijing and Johannesburg were introduced, and the visa application process has been improved.

*  the love of cricket in India and South Africa has led to the use of ex-cricketer Jonty Rhodes to introduce South Africa to Indian tourists.  A month ago the Travel Agents Federation of India was hosted by SA Tourism in Durban.  SA Tourism Country Manager Hannelie Slabber is particularly successful in her job in this country.

*   the soccer World Cup 2010 kicked off the marketing of our country in Brazil.

*   marketing in Russia is now receiving attention, following a visit by our Deputy Tourism Minister Tokozile Xasa.

‘Our intention is that this Summit takes our tourism efforts with the BRICS countries to the next level. It is an opportunity to find common ground, to find areas where all our tourism industries can gain and grow from working together. I am committed to using the next few days to take some important steps forward; to opening up our tourism industry to the BRICS countries and to finding out how best we can meet the needs of these important markets‘, concluded Minister van Schalkwyk.

Chris von Ulmenstein, Whale Cottage Portfolio: www,whalecottage.com Twitter: @WhaleCottage

SA Tourism ‘tourism boom’ statistics irresponsible!

The recent Sunday Times story headlined ‘Tourism boom lights up SA’ is irresponsible, and downright misleading to South Africans, as is the information provided about the country’s tourism performance in the past six months by SA Tourism.

The newspaper report stated that tourism had generated R35 billion in the first six months of this year, of which R20 billion came from locals, making up 76% of tourism volume. The main foundation for the ‘boom’ claim is that the 4,4 million arrivals in the January – June 2012 period were 10,5% higher than in 2011, not difficult to achieve, given the very poor tourism performance last year.  Unbelievable too is that international tourists mainly arrived from the USA and the UK, tourists from the latter having all but dried up in the past two years.  Tourists from the UK were described as having ‘the healthiest appetite for all things South African’, at 215500 tourists, or 5% of all arrivals.  The USA made up 155000 of the arrivals, Germany was in third place, with 119000, China in fourth place at 60000, and France is in fifth place.  A recent letter by tour operator Colin Bell to Southern African Tourism Update highlighted that the SA Tourism figures include Transit passenger figures, not qualifying to be counted as tourists, as they do not set foot in our country other than the transit lounge at OR Thambo airport. The Chinese arrival figures include a large percentage of transit passengers.  SA Tourism and the Minister of Tourism Marthinus van Schalkwyk have not reacted to Bell’s criticism.

The lack of marketing in the Western Cape, by both Wesgro (its predecessor Cape Town Routes Unlimited was closed down at the end of March, and was winding down its activities before that. Wesgro has shown no signs of Marketing the Western Cape since taking over provincial marketing on 1 April this year) and Cape Town Tourism, clearly has made itself felt, with our province not making the Top 3 provinces visited by local tourists in the first half of this year. Instead, they holidayed in Limpopo (22%), Gauteng (19%), and KwaZulu-Natal (18%).   Yet Western Cape attractions were the four most visited by tourists, the V&A Waterfront being the top visitor attraction in the country despite its visitorship dropping by 5%, with 950000 visitors, relative to the same period as last year, followed by the Cape Town city centre, Cape Point, and the Winelands making up the top four national visitor attractions.  Surprisingly, the New7Wonders of Nature Table Mountain and Robben Island did not make it to the top ten tourism list!  Sandton City was in fifth place, with 370000 visitors, and Kruger Park in 6th place, with 240000 guests.

The Western Cape desperately needs local tourists, as the continuing recession is impacting on international tourist numbers.  Wesgro and Cape Town Tourism are not marketing Cape Town and Western Cape to South Africans, which should be their number one priority.  The City of Cape Town’s new Marketing Division, led by Marketing Director Rory Viljoen, has not shown any sign of action.  We will soon be half way through the summer season, and can see that this will not be a boom summer, despite the two week period from 21 December – 5 January being close to fully booked, highlighting that not only does the Cape suffer Seasonality in winter, but also in summer, only two of the four weeks of each summer month having reasonable levels of occupancy and activity.

Chris von Ulmenstein, Whale Cottage Portfolio: www.whalecottage.com Twitter: @WhaleCottage

Minister of Tourism’s Tourism Arrivals con!

Colin Bell deserves a tourism award for bravery and persistence, in delving into Tourism Minister Marthinus van Schalkwyk’s tourism arrival statistics, and writing what we have been saying for a long time – the statistics do not reflect what we are experiencing at the coalface.  Bell has confirmed that the Tourism Arrival figures are over-inflated, and do not accurately represent our country’s tourism picture, given that 16% of tourism arrivals in the January – June 2012 period were transit passengers, flying via Johannesburg to another country in Africa!

Writing a Letter to the Editor of Southern African Tourism Update, Bell describes his quest to find out why the tourism picture experienced in the rural areas in particular does not reflect the Minister’s glowing arrival information, having written about this dichotomy previously.  Taking Department of Statistics information, the source of the Minister’s announcements, he found that the Department breaks down tourist arrivals by type, being Leisure, Business, Study, Work, and Transit.  When Bell compared the first six month arrivals of 2008 and 2012, excluding the Transit passengers, he found that tourism arrivals had decreased by 11,6%, instead of being up by 4,6% according to the Minister’s Arrivals information! The percentage of Transit passengers was as high as 21% in July this year, and 37% and and 48% of the China and Brazil arrivals were in fact transit passengers, respectively!

Bell also found that in July 146000 arrivals from Lesotho were recorded, of which 45 were here on business, and the balance on holiday, commenting:  “Surely Minister and SA Tourism, these numbers should strike you as irregular?” He added that the inaccuracy of the Lesotho figures should make one question all tourism arrival figures and the method of data collection.

The Minister of Tourism’s previous reaction to Bell’s criticism is that he and his department stand by them! They make the Minister look good, and President Zuma even congratulated the Minister in Parliament for his Department’s sterling January – June 2012 tourism arrival performance!  One trusts that industry bodies such as FEDHASA and SATSA will tackle the Minister and his department to get them to more accurately reflect the true tourism performance of our country.

Chris von Ulmenstein, Whale Cottage Portfolio: www.whalecottage.com Twitter: @WhaleCottage