More tourists and spend but fewer trips in 2008July 24th, 2009 by H&R | Categories: government, hotels, restaurants, tourism
Domestic tourism in South Africa last year remained relatively buoyant despite the tough economic climate.
This was the view of ghe Minister of Tourism Marthinus van Schalkwyk and acting CEO of South African Tourism Didi Moyle when they spoke at the release of the South African Tourism domestic travel statistics for 2008 this week.
Van Schalkwyk said more South Africans travelled domestically in 2008 than in 2007. Some 46% of the adult local population (only adults are measured) travelled in 2008, which equals some 14-million domestic tourists, compared with about 13-million domestic tourists in 2007.
“The total annual spend on domestic tourism increased from R20-billion in 2007 to R25.8-billion in 2008, which represents an increase in nominal terms of 29%. Even when this figure is adjusted for inflation, the real growth in revenue generated from domestic tourism was 17% over 2007, which represents healthy growth, especially given that it was achieved under difficult market conditions.
“The average spend per trip also increased from R550 in 2007 to R780 in 2008 in nominal terms and R720 in 2007 in real terms,” Van Schalkwyk said.
“We never expected our local industry to be immune to the economic realities facing the entire world. Despite the good news in terms of an increase in domestic tourists and spend, we also saw a decrease in the number of trips undertaken in 2008. Domestic trips decreased by 8% compared to 2007, with 32.9-million trips being undertaken in comparison to 35.9-million in 2007. We have to face these realities, but now that we can quantify the effects of the financial downturn on our tourism industry, we can plan and market better.”
Van Schalkwyk announced that the Department of Tourism is engaged in a countrywide stakeholder tour to consult with members of the tourism industry about their needs and to communicate its strategy for revitalising the industry.
The domestic tourism statistics will help everyone gain insight into tourism trends, which will help inform the Tourism Sector Plan the department is drafting. This plan, the first of its kind for the entire tourism sector, is a five-year strategy focusing on growing the sector and building resilience.
“During times like these it is vital for South African Tourism to strengthen its marketing campaigns and show South Africans that travelling our country is still affordable,” he said. “Value for money has always been a key driver when packaging travel for the local market.”
The major beneficiaries of domestic tourism are KwaZulu-Natal and the Eastern Cape, followed by Gauteng and the Western Cape.
In terms of the major source markets for domestic tourism, Gauteng led with 9.8 annual trips from the province, followed by 8.7 trips from KwaZulu-Natal, 5.1 from the Eastern Cape and 3.4 from the Western Cape.
Last year the Sho’t Left domestic marketing campaign was re-launched and went online with a dedicated website, plus a Facebook, Twitter and YouTube presence. The campaign highlights the ease, affordability and fun of travel by sharing the stories of young people on holiday. The travel trade can also upload deals and packages for free on the Sho’t Left website, says Nothando Mathe, SA Tourism’s country manager for Southern Africa.
SA Tourism will continue to initiate joint marketing agreements with its travel trade partners and work closely with provincial tourism authorities on advertising campaigns.
Looking ahead, Moyle says: “I think 2009 is going to be tough. We are still witnessing a slowing down of the economy. That’s the challenge for us – we have to market a lot harder in these conditions.”
On next year’s World Cup, Van Schalkwyk said the country does not have an accommodation problem, but rather a serious transport challenge, specifically flights and buses.