SA tourism faces huge African com­pe­ti­tion

CityPress - - Business - ALDI SCHOE­MAN busi­ness@city­

South Africa is no longer like the el­dest child who gets all the at­ten­tion from tourists vis­it­ing Africa – there are brothers and sis­ters also de­mand­ing their turn.

Mmat­satsi Ra­mawela, CEO of the Tourism Busi­ness Coun­cil of SA, said: “Africa is awak­en­ing, and that means South Africa has more com­peti­tors than be­fore.”

East Africa is grow­ing at a more rapid rate than the rest of the con­ti­nent, and is be­com­ing an in­creas­ingly at­trac­tive tourist des­ti­na­tion, ac­cord­ing to the In­ter­na­tional Mone­tary Fund.

Ac­cord­ing to statis­tics from Air­ports Com­pany SA, the num­ber of pas­sen­gers us­ing Cape Town In­ter­na­tional Air­port this year has grown by 6.2%. At King Shaka in Dur­ban, the growth was 9%, but at OR Tambo in Jo­han­nes­burg, it was only 2.7%.

King Shaka opened its doors in May 2010 and cost R6.8 bil­lion to build.

Growth at OR Tambo is, how­ever, from a higher base – the air­port pro­cessed nearly 20.4 mil­lion pas­sen­gers last year, com­pared with 9.6 mil­lion in Cape Town and 2.1 mil­lion at King Shaka.

The num­ber of overseas pas­sen­gers stopping over in South Africa while on their way to other des­ti­na­tions de­clined by 7.5% from Septem­ber last year to Septem­ber this year, ac­cord­ing to the lat­est fig­ures from Stats SA.

Cape Town would this year process 10 mil­lion vis­i­tors for the first time, said Chris Zweigen­thal, CEO of the Air­lines As­so­ci­a­tion of South­ern Africa.

Ra­mawela said var­i­ous coun­tries in east Africa were strength­en­ing their tourism of­fer­ing. “Im­por­tant meet­ings take place in Ki­gali [Rwanda’s cap­i­tal].”

A new in­ter­na­tional con­fer­ence cen­tre was opened there in July. In May, the city hosted the meet­ing of the World Eco­nomic Fo­rum.

Ad­dis Ababa Bole In­ter­na­tional Air­port in Ethiopia is be­ing ex­panded and Ethiopian Air­lines is seen as one of the most suc­cess­ful air­lines on the con­ti­nent.

Kenya, Rwanda and Uganda have a shared tourism visa – some­thing that would sig­nif­i­cantly ben­e­fit other coun­tries in south­ern Africa, said Ra­mawela.

Cape Town and King Shaka’s suc­cess is at­trib­uted to the ad­di­tion of flight routes to these cities, among other things.

Ger­man air­line Lufthansa’s new flight from Cape Town to Frank­furt is the lat­est.

Emi­rates has a third daily flight be­tween Cape Town and Dubai, and Bri­tish Air­ways has three new flights be­tween Gatwick and Cape Town.

In the last quar­ter of last year, King Shaka added four flights a week to Ethiopia, four to Qatar, three to Turkey and four to Zam­bia to its sched­ule.

Air Namibia has started fly­ing from Wind­hoek to Gaborone in Botswana, and then to Dur­ban and back, ac­cord­ing to Colin Naidoo, a spokesper­son for the air­port.

Air Namibia flies its Wind­hoek-GaboroneDur­ban sched­ule four times a week with ca­pac­ity for 37 pas­sen­gers and 500kg of cargo.

It is also sched­uled to be­gin a flight to the Sey­chelles in March.

The in­ter­na­tional air­ports in Wind­hoek and Gabarone would also have played a role in en­tic­ing some pas­sen­gers be­cause there were more di­rect flights to those air­ports, said Zweigen­thal.

On top of that, Vic­to­ria Falls in Zim­babwe now has an in­ter­na­tional air­port and Ethiopian Air­lines will be­gin fly­ing there from March.

Ac­cord­ing to Zweigen­thal, Qatar had also in­di­cated that it wanted to be­gin fly­ing to Vic­to­ria Falls.

That said, it’s ac­tu­ally good for ev­ery­one if African coun­tries be­come more pop­u­lar.

“Africa only has 2.5% of to­tal air traf­fic in the world, so there are many op­por­tu­ni­ties for growth,” Zweigen­thal said.

But he also said that re­cent prob­lems with long queues at im­mi­gra­tion at OR Tambo and the con­fu­sion over unabridged birth cer­tifi­cates that are re­quired when par­ents travel with their chil­dren are hold­ing South Africa back.

“Long queues are a re­al­ity ev­ery­where, but what makes peo­ple an­gry is when all the coun­ters are not manned. Peo­ple are more pa­tient when they see that there are staff mem­bers at all the coun­ters.”

He wel­comed the an­nounce­ment by Home Af­fairs Min­is­ter Malusi Gi­gaba that an ad­di­tional 255 em­ploy­ees would be de­ployed dur­ing the fes­tive sea­son to help al­le­vi­ate con­ges­tion at bor­der posts.

At OR Tambo, an ad­di­tional 92 staff mem­bers will as­sist with pro­cess­ing for­eign vis­i­tors. Gi­gaba em­pha­sised that the ar­range­ment was only tem­po­rary and that a more sus­tain­able so­lu­tion would be found af­ter the fes­tive sea­son.

Ac­cord­ing to the UN’s World Tourism Or­gan­i­sa­tion, in­ter­na­tional ar­rivals be­tween Jan­uary and Septem­ber have in­creased by 4% com­pared with the same time last year.

In Africa, ar­rivals in­creased by 8%, while in Europe, ar­rivals rose by 2%. South Amer­ica saw an in­crease of 7%, North Amer­ica rose by 4%, and Asia and Aus­tralia by 9%.

Africa only has 2.5% of to­tal air traf­fic in the world, so there are many op­por­tu­ni­ties for growth

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