South African tourism industry shows signs of recovery
THE tourism and hospitality sector in South Africa is operating at healthier levels than in previous years and there is generally “positive sentiment in the industry” ? although some segments of the market will continue to struggle until economic growth picks up.
This is according to Tourism Business Council of South Africa (TBCSA) CEO Mmatsatsi Ramawela, who said last week the TBCSA FNB tourism business index for the second quarter of 2013 confirmed that the industry had returned to normal trading levels.
“Things are looking up ? we think our industry is on a solid footing,” Ms Ramawela said.
However, she said the industry needed “the rest of the economy to pull in”. While the index would remain in the normal range with current economic growth rates, it was being supported by major nodes that were being driven largely by the growth in business tourism.
Ms Ramawela said the game lodge industry and some other rural tourism businesses “are struggling”.
The accommodation industry had generally absorbed most of the excess supply that was introduced ahead of the 2010 Fifa World Cup, although the sector was still cautious to introduce new stock, she said.
Danny Bryer, director of sales, marketing and revenue at Protea Hospitality Group, said last week the South African hotel industry “is starting to look reasonably more bullish than two years ago”.
Should the tourism and accommodation industry continue its positive trajectory, there was scope to begin planning new hotel developments given that demand would increase while supply for the next few years would be largely static, Mr Bryer said.
In line with other hotel operators, much of Protea Hospitality?s local focus in the past few years has been on refurbishing existing assets.
Rival operator Tsogo Sun said on Monday its Southern Sun Waterfront hotel in Cape Town had embarked on an extensive refurbishment that would see R100m invested in the 546-room property.
Mr Bryer said the industry seemed to be on a “firmer footing than previously” although some regions were outperforming others. He said Johannesburg was experiencing higher hotel demand than Cape Town and Durban largely because of OR Tambo International Airport, which was the only major regional hub.
Although global economies “are still far from mended ? and we still have to work within that framework”, the platform established over the past year showed the tourism and accommodation industry was growing, he said.
“One of the biggest growing areas into southern Africa has been the MICE (meetings, incentives, conferences, and exhibitions) market ? which people underestimate.”
Mr Bryer said convention centres and hotels in Johannesburg, Cape Town and Durban were performing well and the MICE industry was showing “big growth”.