Africa Opens Arms to Global Hotel Brands… and Tourism

The ‘Africa rising’ narrative might have become more complex recently, and taken a few knocks, but there’s no doubt the continent is open for business where hotel development and tourism is concerned, writes Tim Smith

The strengthening of the rand against the pound and the dollar is unlikely to deter visitors to South Africa. Initial concerns that Brexit would stop Europeans from making long-haul trips have proved incorrect.

That all 10 of the leading markets for tourists to South Africa have shown substantial increases in the number of visitors, according to Stats SA's latest Tourism and Migration report, is good news. It reported that the number of tourists increased by 14% from 731 248 in August 2015 to 833 638 in August 2016. The number of overseas tourists has increased by 22.6% over the same period.

Tourists from the UK, the USA, Germany, the Netherlands, France, China, Italy, Australia, India and Spain (that showed a 51.5% rise in numbers to South Africa) comprised 75.2% of all tourists from overseas countries. That the United Kingdom had the smallest increase, with 10%, is probably down to the nervousness around Brexit.

Over the past few months we have highlighted how important it was for the South African government to change its Draconian visa requirements, especially for Chinese visitors, and are delighted that with conditions eased, there has been a whopping 66% year-on-year increase in the number of visitors to South Africa from China.

The South African visa regulations definitely caused problems that cost the country a small fortune. We have had clients from India, with the visas in their passports, having to wait four hours at OR Tambo; there were on average 11 people not allowed to board each flight from the United Kingdom to South Africa (including film star Idris Alba, who played Nelson Mandela in Long Walk to Freedom) last summer and with the introduction of new regulations in China, the number of visitors to SA dropped 40%.

However fantastic the destination may be, if you can't get there, tourists won't come. South Africa has so much to offer leisure and business tourists, but if it is easier to enter Kenya for a safari (which it now is) then potential travellers will choose Kenya over South Africa.

Read more

Source: Hospitality Net