Source: Tourism Update

Tourism Update readers are upbeat about the prospects of growth over the next 12 months, with a total of 31.3% – of 354 participants in last month’s readers’ survey – expecting around 41% to 70% growth between June 2022 and June 2023.

A further 37.8% are expecting 15% to 40% growth.

Only 8.7% are expecting less than 15%, while 13.2% are expecting between 71% and 100% growth. A further 8.6% of participants are expecting more than 100% growth over that period.

MD of Wild Wings Safaris, Onne Vegter, told Tourism Update: “I agree with the majority view that there is likely to be robust growth of between 15% and 40% over the next 12 months compared with the last 12 months. It could even be more, because up to February 2022 Omicron was still a major concern that affected travel, so we’re comparing to a modest base.”

He said the most obvious driver of growth would be the end of the pandemic and lifting of remaining restrictions. “This goes along with increased capacity throughout the tourism value chain and, in particular, in aviation. South Africa has seen significant capacity loss on both domestic and international routes during the pandemic and as recently as Q2 in 2022. As other airlines begin to fill the gap and add more routes, we will see a strong recovery in regional and local air travel.”

Vegter added that improved international air access and improvements in South Africa’s e-Visa system should enable strong recovery from inbound markets. “From November onwards, both Delta and United will be adding direct flights to Cape Town, which will bring strong growth from the North American market.”

He said Q3 was already looking pretty good for Wild Wings. “We can tell not only by our own numbers but by the limited availability of flights and accommodation for popular destinations. Once the Cape Town flights are added, we should see even stronger growth over our December season and into 2023.”

Owner and director of Alpha Destinations, Angela Matthews, is equally optimistic in her forecast. “Things are definitely looking promising and, if judging by current enquiries, we should quite easily see a 60% to 70% growth over the next 12 months – compared to the last 12 months.”

She said challenges included the cost of international flights, availability of seats on both international and regional flights, particularly during high season and for the five-star segment.

‘Long-haul growth lagging a little’

Sabine Blehle, CEO of GoVacation Africa, noted that growth to long-haul destinations was taking longer than to the short-haul and mid-haul destinations. “This not only has to do with the price difference but also with the preference of staying closer to home.

“We anticipate that international bookings to South Africa will continue to increase steadily, and over the next 12 months reach about 70% of 2019 numbers.

“We, however, foresee a change in the way people travel in the form of workcations, staycations etc. The traveller to South Africa has to expect to pay more due to increases in fares and rates, therefore mainstream tourism will take longer to recover than upmarket luxury travel.”