Reviving tourism – Cape Business News

As the curtains from the past two years of COVID-19 restrictions have fallen, the tourism sector is providing a sliver of light to South Africa’s economic recovery.

“Over the past two years, measures to mitigate the COVID-19 pandemic have contributed to the devastating decline in tourism nationally and internationally,” said the Ministry of Tourism’s acting chief director of communications, Seapei Lebele. .

The arrival of the pandemic has led to a massive drop in foreign arrivals and income. Tourism‘s contribution to gross domestic product has fallen from 3.7% in 2019 to around 1.3% in 2020.

Adding salt to the wound, estimated declines in direct employment in the sector exceeded 36% in 2020 compared to 2019.

“On the supply side, we have seen losses in key tourism products and services, affecting the gains made over the years to diversify South Africa’s tourism supply, with particularly painful losses for the sector. SMEs. These losses have an additional negative impact on our fight for large-scale economic transformation in this sector,” says Lebele.

Sparkles of light

However, domestic travel contributed positively to demand during the COVID-19 period, thanks to campaigns and prices targeted for the domestic market.

“It was positive and helped create better understanding within the market and, through this exposure, propelled the market to diversify its offerings,” says Lebele as she reflects on the past two years for the sector.

Pent-up demand and the end of lockdown restrictions have seen South Africans undertake more domestic travel in the first half of 2022. Just last week the Cabinet underlined the ‘critical’ importance of domestic tourism to the recovery of the sector.

The Cabinet welcomed that the hospitality sector recorded an increase in the number of visitors after the COVID-19 period, as 15.2 million domestic trips were made during the first half of 2022. this is an increase of 114% compared to the same period in 2021. This shows a marked improvement for the same period in 2019, which saw 8.6 million domestic trips made.

“The tourism sector is starting to recover and is on the verge of rebounding. The first half of 2022 showed a staggering 147% growth in arrivals reaching an impressive 2,285,746. Holiday travel increased by 23.8% compared to the same period in 2021, and average spending rose to 28 .6%,” she says.

The main driver of domestic travel in the first six months of 2022 was the easing of travel restrictions related to COVID-19.

This is good news for the country, which celebrates tourism month in September. Celebrated every year, the month focuses for a month on the importance of the sector for the economy.

Tourism Month is also encouraging South Africans to travel to the country to maintain jobs and support the recovery of tourism in line with the Tourism Sector Recovery Plan.

When asked if South Africans used to explore their own backyards, Lebele said that was most definitely the case.

“Absolutely. Although the Living Standard Measure (LSM) still shows mostly the middle class and upper LSM levels undertaking travel instead of the lower LSM groups. urgently and continuously through our national outreach programs.”

As the pandemic has taken its toll, one of its positive impacts is that people are looking for local experiences.

“People are looking for local experiences and spending more time with communities. We have developed a framework that advances community tourism. This framework will ensure that the community is at the heart of development, ensuring that they are engaged and empowered,” she said. SAnews in an interview.

She adds that the country remains a top destination for travelers from around the world.

According to the quarterly tourism performance report, the total number of tourist arrivals increased by 146.8% for the period January-June 2022 compared to January-June 2021. This is a growth compared to a total of 926,262 tourist arrivals recorded in January-June 2021 to 2,285,746 in January-June 2022.

The total number of tourist arrivals from the overseas market increased by 429.0% (+459,953) while tourist arrivals from the African continent increased by 109.8% (+897 124). In volume, the increase recorded from the continent was driven by Zimbabwe (+245,674; 128.9%) followed by Lesotho (+207,504, 133.0%) and Mozambique (+185,250; 80.5% ).

The ministry recently released the draft Framework for Community Involvement in Tourism (FCPT) for public comment. The FCPT, in line with the Tourism Sector Recovery Plan, emphasizes the importance of developing and strengthening national, regional and local tourism that is inclusive and prioritizes the well-being of the community.

Its objective is to ensure that tourism brings maximum benefit to the communities where tourism serves as a catalyst. Minister Lindiwe Sisulu said the objective of the framework is to guide the department, provincial departments of tourism and other key tourism stakeholders in their efforts to encourage community participation in the tourism sector and, therefore, to increase the positive impact that tourism can have on local economic development and community quality of life.

The executive says Lebele, was well received.

“Since the project was made available for public comment, response has been low and the department has used a variety of platforms to introduce the project to larger communities/tourism stakeholders. However, we hope to receive feedback as we encourage more stakeholders to provide input. »

Looking for opportunities

Meanwhile, the department is working on a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with Qatar which will host the FIFA World Cup later this year to see South Africa as a hub for the football spectacle. Because the Middle East is a critical market for South Africa.

The department says the collaboration will be very helpful in ensuring ease of access to and from South Africa for travelers from this region, while helping to increase the country’s trade efforts.

“The MoU has been drafted and is undergoing the necessary review and finalization processes by the respective countries,” Lebele said.

The tournament will take place from November 20 to December 18.

world tourism day

South Africa joined the world this week in celebrating World Tourism Day on September 27. Inspired by the United Nations World Tourism Organization (UNWTO), World Tourism Day celebrations provide a platform for the South African sector to celebrate, reflect and commemorate its milestones against the 2030 Sustainable Development Goals .

This year’s theme was declared as “Rethinking Tourism – Opportunities Await” and addresses the progress made in the wake of the pandemic and how policy makers and the tourism sector have been able to adapt and rethink tourism to ensure the sector becomes more resilient.

The department worked closely with South African Tourism to localize the international theme to align with the country’s strategic areas and the department’s mandate.

“The reason for World Tourism Day is to cultivate and raise awareness in global society of the importance of tourism, as well as its social, political, financial and cultural value,” she said.

She adds that the theme re-emphasizes the importance of everyone rallying behind new ways of doing things in tourism and travel and that domestic travel “never again be overlooked at the expense of inbound tourism.”

“South African Tourism, the department’s marketing agency, has the Sho’t Left campaign which was launched in 2004 as part of its domestic tourism strategy. The objective of this campaign is to create affordable travel for specific targeted segments within the domestic tourism market.

“It is hoped that the hype surrounding Tourism Month will result in more people being educated on domestic tourism, as well as benefiting from the various discounts offered by different entities.”

Go off the beaten track

Asked what has been done to mitigate the negative impacts of the past two years, Lebele says the pandemic has challenged the sector to think outside the box and look for ways to build an inclusive and resilient tourism sector that will ensure the participation of women and women. young people significantly.

The department has since dedicated resources to support the recovery of the economy, particularly the tourism sector in line with the Tourism Sector Recovery Plan. Projects have been implemented to protect and rejuvenate the sector, including the publication of norms and standards for safe operations in the sector as well as training within the sector on these.

The ministry has also implemented the tourism infrastructure maintenance program at major tourist attractions. The program renovates existing state-owned tourism assets such as neighborhoods, protected areas, national and provincial parks, botanical and zoological gardens, and heritage sites. The department has also finalized the Baviaanskloof interpretation center and the leopard trail, financed by the European Union (57 million rand).

As Tourism Month draws to a close, the department remains hard at work to ensure that South Africans from all walks of life fully benefit from the various tourism and travel offerings.

Just as the curtains are drawn at the start of each new day, the stage is set for those with itchy feet to continue to enjoy the scenic splendor of the country, its culture and the warm summer days ahead. – SAnews.gov.za

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