Summer has arrived in southern Africa, and December heralds the start of the peak summer holiday season. Our front cover for this edition aptly portrays the long awaited lure of sand, sea and sun – an image that has no doubt kept many consumers motivated through the year to save a portion of their annual income in anticipation of a well earned holiday with family and friends over the festive season.
Consequently, the travel trade is anticipating a busy season to off-set, what for many has been a difficult trading year, fraught with Ebola mania and untimely immigration regulations, despite an increase in Total Foreign Arrivals of 4.9% and a marginal increase in Average Room Occupancy across all hotels of 0.9%. (See SATSA Market Intelligence Report on page 10).
According to the third quarterly TBCSA FNB Tourism Business Index (TBI), the South African tourism industry has exceeded performance expectations with a score of 105.3 (a score of 100 is regarded as the normal trading climate, and performance is forecast to remain above normal levels at 109.8 in the last quarter of this year).
The TBI also probed the industry’s views on the impact of the Ebola outbreak and the implementation of the new immigration regulations and revealed mixed results.
“When it comes to the Ebola outbreak, the majority of respondents in the accommodation sector (73%) stated that they had not experienced any impact on business as a result of the outbreak” said Grant Thornton’s Head of Advisory Services, Gillian Saunders. She added that understandably, the biggest concern relating to the outbreak came from travel agents, and tour operators.
On the issue of the new regulations, the index found that despite the postponement of the regulation relating to the presentation of unabridged birth certificates, tour operators and hotel groups still expect this regulation to have a negative impact on their business. One of the respondents expressed concern regarding resources, saying “There is simply not enough resources at Home Affairs to attend to the requests of local travellers and for international travellers, not all countries have such documentation in place. It has merely created barriers for selling South Africa as a destination.”
On a personal note, I must commend the efforts of SATSA’s CEO, David Frost who has been instrumental in ‘engaging’ with the Department of Home Affairs to resolve the new immigration regulations.
The issue of Open Skies for tourism growth through aviation has found a voice in the form of OpenSkies.Travel – a broad coalition of global stakeholders to promote Open Skies policies and robust aviation competition, and I urge you to join at no cost (read more on page 07).
As I write this Cover Story editorial, I am breathing the refreshing ‘Champaign Air’ of Hermanus – a picturesque village located along the ‘Whale Coast’ in the Western Cape province’s Overberg region of South Africa. While ‘on location’, I look forward to researching the regions hospitality and attractions for publication in the January 2015 edition of Tourism Tattler.
Until then, I wish you and yours a prosperous festive season.
Yours in Tourism,
Des Langkilde. [email protected]