Tourism sec­tor suf­fers as credit crunch hits ho­tels

Con­fed Cup, Lions tour save June from neg­a­tive growth

Weekend Argus (Saturday Edition) - - ISSUES - BIANCA CAPAZORIO

SOUTH AFRICA’S tourism sec­tor is tak­ing strain in the tough eco­nomic cli­mate, with in­come from ac­com­mo­da­tion for the sec­ond quar­ter down 5.4 per­cent from the same time last year.

How­ever, June was the only month so far this year which did not show neg­a­tive growth, prob­a­bly boosted by sev­eral sports events, such as the Bri­tish and Ir­ish Lions tour and the Fifa Con­fed­er­a­tions cup.

Statis­tics SA’s fig­ures for the sec­ond quar­ter showed that while ac­com­mo­da­tion in­come for the quar­ter was down year on year, June’s in­come re­mained sta­ble from last year. It was the first month this year in which neg­a­tive growth was not recorded.

A re­port re­leased by Deloitte this week in­di­cates that a bumper sport­ing sea­son in June was prob­a­bly to thank for a rise of 5.8 per­cent in rev­enue per avail­able room (RevPAR), a key per­for­mance in­di­ca­tor in the in­dus­try.

“The sport­ing events in June gave the ho­tel in­dus­try a wel­come break from the de­clines and also pro­vided South Africa with a prac­tice run be­fore the 2010 Fifa World Cup,” said Deloitte’s Tourism, Hos­pi­tal­ity and Leisure leader, Mo­ray Wil­son.

“The coun­try is no stranger to host­ing sport­ing events but the World Cup will cer­tainly be the big­gest we have held in re­cent years. Dur­ing the event, the coun­try is aim­ing to wel­come ap­prox­i­mately 450 000 vis­i­tors and will cer­tainly set up the frame­work for a very pros­per­ous 2010 for the tourism in­dus­try.”

Ma­jor cities, such as Cape Town and Jo­han­nes­burg, ben­e­fited the most from the re­cent foot­ball and rugby events. Rev­enue per avail­able room in Cape Town jumped 14.2 per­cent break­ing five con­sec­u­tive months of RevPAR de­cline, de­spite only host­ing two rugby matches. The jump was mostly due to a 10.6 per­cent in­crease in av­er­age room rates to R880 but oc­cu­pancy also went up by 3.3 per­cent to 51.1 per­cent end­ing a 12-month cy­cle of oc­cu­pancy de­cline.

Spokes­woman for the Tourism Busi­ness Coun­cil of South Africa, Kag­iso Mo­sue, said mem­bers had been “hard hit” by the eco­nomic sit­u­a­tion but “some re­cent events like the In­dian Premier League, the Con­fed­er­a­tions Cup and the Bri­tish and Ir­ish Lions tour have helped to sus­tain our mem­bers”.

Wil­son said the tourism in­dus­try still faced chal­lenges as a re­sult of tough eco­nomic times.

“There is no doubt that the South African tourism in­dus­try con­tin­ues to be chal­lenged by the global eco­nomic down­turn and some tourists are be­ing de­terred by the strong rand against source mar­ket cur­ren­cies.

“Data com­piled by STR Global shows that the RevPAR is down 7.2 per­cent year-to-June 2009 and if this trend con­tin­ues, 2009 could be the first year in 10 years that RevPAR has con­tracted,” Wil­son said.

The Statis­tics SA fig­ures back this up, show­ing the num­ber of stay nights sold for the sec­ond quar­ter of 2009 de­creased by 9.8 per­cent com­pared with the sec­ond quar­ter of 2008.

The main con­trib­u­tor to the de­crease of 5.4 per­cent in the in­come from ac­com­mo­da­tion for the sec­ond quar­ter of 2009 com­pared with the sec­ond quar­ter of 2008 was ho­tels, with in­come drop­ping from R1.99 bil­lion in the sec­ond quar­ter of 2008 to R1.86bn this year, a per­cent­age drop of 6.6 per­cent.

Only car­a­van parks and camp­sites and guest­houses and guest­far ms showed pos­i­tive in­come growth, with car­a­van parks and camp­sites climb­ing 8 per­cent and guest­houses and guest­farms show­ing 1.6 per­cent growth.

PIC­TURE CINDY WAXA

NUM­BERS DOWN: Nel­son Man­dela Gate­way uses only one boat to take tourists to Robben Is­land.

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