During the Day Zero panic, South Africa saw visitor numbers drop, but many in the travel and tourism sectors were hopeful that the industry would bounce back.
According to the latest Statistics SA data, however, that’s not the case, and people like Tourism Business Council of South Africa (TBCSA) CEO Tshifhiwa Tshivhengwa are rather worried.
In a nutshell, reports Moneyweb, “if foreign tourist arrival numbers continue to decline, 2019 will turn out to be even worse than last year for the industry”.
Stats SA reported on Monday in the release of its monthly tourism and migration data that foreign arrivals were down 5% for July, compared to July 2018. The data also reveals that South Africans are travelling less overseas with arrivals by South Africans down 11.8%, while departures were down 11.6%.
The figures speak for themselves, says Tshivhengwa. “We have been saying for some time things are tough and are not looking good in terms of international tourist arrivals into South Africa. Our TBI [Tourism Business Index] results from last year predicted this and now it is a reality with international arrivals continuing to decline.”
Whilst Africa as a whole showed a decline in numbers, countries like Kenya, Uganda, and Zimbabwe showed growth. This infographic via SA Tourism sums it up nicely:
Tshivhengwa added that the forward booking numbers show little sign of recovery and, on a longer-term outlook, the organisation’s aim of doubling the number of tourists by 2030 is now at great risk.
There are numerous reasons for the decline:
The organisations have secured the support of President Cyril Ramaphosa to grow the tourism industry and have been calling for relaxation of visa regulations and addressing the issue of unabridged birth certificates for travelling minors…
[Tshivhengwa says] “These issues, together with SA’s visa regime and continuing challenges around unabridged birth certificates, were raised by international travel companies in our recent roadshow to Europe.”
SA Tourism acting CEO Sthembiso Dlamini points out: “South Africa views violence in a serious light and condemns it in the strongest possible terms. While we are unable to quantify the impact from an international arrivals perspective, what is concerning is the negative image the attacks have had on South Africa as a brand.”
She adds: “The recent attacks violate all the values that South Africa embodies. Our country stands firmly against all intolerance.
There have been numerous reports in the news of tourists cancelling their trips, citing xenophobic violence and crime, and changing that perception with international visitors is damaged by every fresh report of such attacks.
Still, following a recent roadshow around Europe aimed at stimulating the industry, Dlamini believes progress was made:
“The roadshow was a great success, providing more insights into some of the barriers and concerns of tourists wanting to travel to South Africa,” she says.
“The concerns coming out of this roadshow such as unabridged birth certificates, marketing of the less popular regions as well new product offerings, will be addressed in order to make sure South Africa is more accessible to travellers from Europe and other parts of the world.”
Yeah, that and doing more to ensure that people like Ivan Ivanov aren’t stabbed to death at popular tourist attractions.
Thankfully, steps have been taken to ensure the safety of hikers around Cape Town, but it’s a long way back to winning the trust, and money, of those who may have otherwise headed to our shores.
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