Cut­ting of visa red tape boosts tourism

For­eign vis­i­tors up 12.8%

The Star Early Edition - - NEWS - Ka­belo Khu­malo

SOUTH Africa’s tourism in­dus­try re­mained re­silient, and the re­lax­ation of visa re­quire­ments last year buoyed over­all rev­enue to R15.8 bil­lion with a 12.2 per­cent rise in room oc­cu­pancy.

This is ac­cord­ing to the lat­est Price­wa­ter­house­Coop­ers (PwC) an­nual ho­tels out­look, which cov­ered South Africa, Nige­ria, Mau­ri­tius, Kenya and Tan­za­nia.

PwC hos­pi­tal­ity in­dus­try leader Pi­etro Cal­ic­chio said the in­crease in rev­enue was largely aided by in­ter­na­tional tourists who had vis­ited the coun­try last year.

Cal­ic­chio said in­ter­na­tional vis­i­tor num­bers to South Africa re­bounded sig­nif­i­cantly last year, with a 12.8 per­cent in­crease, com­pared with a 6.8 per­cent de­crease in 2015.

“This was mainly due to the re­lax­ation of visa re­quire­ments that con­trib­uted to the growth in for­eign tourism,” Cal­ic­chio said, adding that the firm fore­cast that ho­tel room rev­enue would grow 10.1 per­cent to R17.5bn this year.

The re­port also found that South­ern African De­vel­op­ment Com­mu­nity coun­tries con­trib­uted 73 per­cent of the vis­i­tors to South Africa dur­ing the pe­riod un­der re­view, while trav­ellers from China and In­dia in­creased 38 per­cent and 21.7 per­cent re­spec­tively.

It said the the largest num­ber of for­eign vis­i­tors to South Africa last year came from Zim­babwe, at 2 mil­lion, fol­lowed by Le­sotho, at 1.8 mil­lion, and Mozam­bique, at 1.3 mil­lion.

The sur­vey pro­jected that Nige­ria would be the fastest-grow­ing mar­ket from a rev­enue per­spec­tive over the next five years, with a pro­jected com­pound an­nual in­crease in rev­enue of 14.7 per­cent.

It said Africa’s most pop­u­lous na­tion would ben­e­fit from an im­prov­ing econ­omy, con­tin­ued growth in do­mes­tic tourism, and an ex­pan­sion in the num­ber of avail­able rooms, which would keep av­er­age room-rate growth lower than the rate of in­fla­tion.

The re­port said South Africa would have the sec­ond fastest-grow­ing mar­ket, with a 9.3 per­cent com­pound an­nual in­crease in room rev­enue, most of which would come from ris­ing room rates and con­tin­ued but mod­er­at­ing growth in tourism. It said the Kenyan mar­ket was ex­pected to ex­pand at a com­pound an­nual rate of 7.5 per­cent, buoyed by a strong do­mes­tic econ­omy, govern­ment in­vest­ment in in­fra­struc­ture, and growth in avail­able rooms that will limit room-rate growth.

How­ever, PwC warned that although Tan­za­nia’s newly im­posed value-added tax on tourism ser­vices would in­crease room rev­enue by a com­pound an­nual rate of 6.9 per­cent over the next five years, it would re­sult in a de­cline this year.

Rev­enue in­crease

The pro­fes­sional ser­vices firm said the com­bined rev­enue of the five mar­kets would in­crease at an an­nual com­pound rate of 8.7 per­cent, from R39bn in 2016 to R59.2bn in 2021.

Cal­ic­chio said planned in­vest­ment in in­fra­struc­ture would put South Africa in good stand­ing to at­tract more vis­i­tors in the next few years.

The ex­pected new de­vel­op­ments in­clude the Radis­son Blu Ho­tel & Res­i­dences and Radis­son Red V&A Water­front, the Maslow Time Square Ho­tel in Pre­to­ria and, in Cape Town, the Tsogo Sun Stayeasy, the Tsogo Sun Sun­square Ho­tel and the Silo Ho­tel.

“It is promis­ing to see a grow­ing num­ber of new ho­tels planned for the South African mar­ket over the next five years,” he said. “We ex­pect the over­all num­ber of avail­able rooms to in­crease at a 0.9 per­cent com­pound an­nual rate, thus adding 2 700 rooms over this pe­riod.”

PHOTO: AP

Zim­bab­weans walk to­wards the Beit Bridge bor­der post af­ter shop­ping in Musina in Lim­popo prov­ince. The largest num­ber of vis­i­tors to South Africa last year came from Zim­babwe, at 2 mil­lion, fol­lowed by Le­sotho (1.8 mil­lion) and Mozam­bique (1.3 mil­lion).

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