Do­mes­tic Tourism: Trends & Op­por­tu­ni­ties

Trends & Op­por­tu­ni­ties

Tourism Tattler - - EDITORIAL - By Lee-Anne Bac.

The do­mes­tic tourism sec­tor has pro­vided strong sup­port for the na­tional in­dus­try, but it is still only fo­cused on a lim­ited por­tion of the mar­ket by of­fer­ing the same ‘tra­di­tional' prod­ucts to the same type of tourists that have dom­i­nated ex­pen­di­ture in this area for the past 50 years. Prod­uct providers as­sume that their ex­ist­ing prod­ucts will also ap­peal to new en­trants in the dis­cre­tionary spend­ing econ­omy, when, in fact, they have very dif­fer­ent needs. These trav­ellers are not de­fined by racial de­mo­graph­ics but are rather dif­fer­en­ti­ated by their de­mand for new and dif­fer­ent tourism ex­pe­ri­ences which are not cov­ered by the cur­rent prod­uct set.

Fac­tors that in­flu­ence travel choices for emerg­ing lo­cal tourists – often high-earn­ing and high-spend­ing – in­clude fam­ily size, value for money, food and bev­er­age op­tions, ac­tiv­i­ties that ap­peal to their in­ter­ests, and ac­ces­si­bil­ity.

The 2016 Do­mes­tic Tourism Sur­vey con­ducted by Statis­tics South Africa shows that do­mes­tic overnight trips de­creased by 11% over a year since 2015, to 42.8 mil­lion trips. Of these, only 7.4 mil­lion were leisure trips – a de­crease of 13% from 2015.

The in­crease of 23% for do­mes­tic tourists trav­el­ling by air in 2016 is en­cour­ag­ing, though this still rep­re­sents only 1.5 mil­lion trips out of the 42.8 mil­lion do­mes­tic trips in to­tal.

Trips cat­e­gorised as ‘vis­it­ing friends and rel­a­tives' (VFR) is a po­ten­tial area to cap­i­talise on. Although these trips de­creased by 9% from 2015 to 20.5 mil­lion trips in 2016, there is still sig­nif­i­cant op­por­tu­nity for tourism op­er­a­tors to tap into, by of­fer­ing prod­ucts that would ap­peal to VFR trav­ellers, or even to con­vince them to take a leisure hol­i­day in­stead of a VFR trip.

This does not mean that ex­ist­ing busi­nesses should give away a por­tion of their mar­ket share or prod­ucts. In­stead, there is scope for new prod­uct lines and sup­pli­ers to en­ter and ex­pand the mar­ket. Im­por­tantly, this would also serve to di­ver­sify the com­po­si­tion of the tourism in­dus­try own­er­ship, which is cru­cial for the sus­tain­abil­ity of the sec­tor.

For the past two decades, we have re­lied on feed­ing the in­for­mal – mostly craft­ing – sec­tor into the more for­mal tourism sup­ply chains, to achieve di­ver­si­fi­ca­tion of own­er­ship and prod­ucts, but we need more than this. I see a clear op­por­tu­nity for small- to medium-sized black-owned busi­nesses – rang­ing from ad­ven­ture op­er­a­tors to ho­tel and re­sort groups – to grow the avail­able prod­uct set and to make the do­mes­tic tourism mar­ket ac­ces­si­ble to more con­sumers. If the in­dus­try man­ages to grow in this man­ner, it would go a long way to mak­ing do­mes­tic tourism even more re­silient.

It is crit­i­cal for South Africa to strengthen the foun­da­tions of the lo­cal tourism in­dus­try, as this pro­vides im­por­tant sup­port to the in­ter­na­tional tourism sec­tor. In or­der to achieve this, all stake­hold­ers need to see the value in the big pic­ture – for the econ­omy – in ex­pand­ing the prod­uct of­fer­ing, the own­er­ship land­scape, and the con­sumer base.

We need to see proac­tive ef­forts from the gov­ern­ment by of­fer­ing more land and space for new en­trants, as well as ex­ist­ing sup­pli­ers, to al­low and wel­come new prod­uct providers to add prod­ucts that cater to the un­der­served au­di­ence, with­out com­pro­mis­ing ex­ist­ing sup­ply lines or crowd­ing out ‘tra­di­tional' tourists.

In con­clu­sion, the lo­cal do­mes­tic tourism mar­ket is ripe for mean­ing­ful change which goes be­yond fo­cus­ing on im­prov­ing B-BBEE score­cards. It is ro­bust enough to al­low for ex­pan­sion that would cater for all types of tourists in dif­fer­ent mar­ket seg­ments, all over the coun­try. About the Au­thor: Lee-Anne Bac is the Di­rec­tor: Ad­vi­sory Ser­vices and Leader: Real Es­tate and Con­struc­tion at Grant Thorn­ton

For more in­for­ma­tion visit www.grant­thorn­ton.co.za

Im­age cour­tesy of South African Tourism.

South Africa’s do­mes­tic tourism in­dus­try has the po­ten­tial to con­trib­ute sig­nif­i­cantly more to the econ­omy if it man­ages to ex­pand the in­dus­try so that it caters for ev­ery­one in the coun­try rather than just fo­cus­ing on tra­di­tional in­ter­na­tional tourists.

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