Travel Bounces Back as SA Celebrates Tourism Month With the ‘Black Friday’ of Travel Deals – SAPeople


Travel Bounces Back as SA Celebrates Tourism Month With the ‘Black Friday’ of Travel Deals . Image Supplied

South Africa’s Tourism recovery in the first half of 2022 shows a remarkable resurgence, with domestic travel still the ‘silver bullet’ for the hard-hit sector… writes Selene Brophy.

In the first half of the year, 15.2 million domestic trips were taken, marking a 114% increase compared to the same period in 2021. This is way above the same period in 2019, which saw 8.6 million domestic trips taken.

International arrivals, however, are 54% below 2019 levels. Europe remains South Africa’s key overseas market. It also had the most significant percentage increase in arrivals at 563%, despite external shocks such as the war in Ukraine.

Increase in US visitors, marked uptick in forward bookings

Minister of Tourism Lindiwe Sisulu, who launched Tourism Month at !Khwa ttu, in the Western Cape on September 4, remains optimistic about domestic and international tourism performance though.

“We are particularly pleased that the arrivals from the Americas increased by 331% and represented 128,991 arrivals,” says Sisulu.

South Africa Tourism data also shows forward bookings are seeing a super-charge of their own, with bookings being made further in advance from international travellers. International bookings for August are up 328%; bookings for August to October are up 287%.

Sisulu added, “Africa’s land market is our bread and butter, and it also showed impressive growth, dwarfing the Europe and Americas arrivals numbers.” In addition, the African air market brought in 1, 634,244 arrivals.

SA’ air capacity vital to boost recovery

Overall, improvement of the sector is heavily dependent on global airlift, as seat capacity remains 61% of the 2019 levels. Seat capacity on the routes to Johannesburg grew 71% over 2021, with Qatar as the largest source route. Cape Town has an impressive 1.2 million seats, with Emirates Airways being the largest route.

Airlink has the most capacity in South Africa right now, with Sisulu noting its fares have recently increased by some 7%.

Most remarkable, she said, “75% of seat capacity in South Africa is on Johannesburg routes. Durban – King Shaka International Airport is punching above its weight with a 150% growth from 2021 representing 4% of all seats,” she said.

The Durban routes grew with Emirates seats up over 400% and were the most extensive route in the region. Kruger also had 23 100 seats in 2022 (less than 1% of all seats on international routes). The two airlines active on the route are Lufthansa from Frankfurt and Airlink from Livingstone.

‘Rethinking Tourism’

This year’s Tourism Month, launched under the theme “RethinkingTourism’, “is incredibly special because we are recognising how far we have come as a sector, in spite of everything we have been through in the last few years”, adds Sisulu.

Sisulu says it is significant to note that the number of domestic holiday trips has increased by 23,8% compared with the same period in 2021, and the average spend has skyrocketed to 28,6%.

“As a rule of thumb, you must have a buoyant domestic market because it is a silver bullet that turns locals into storytellers and ambassadors of their country,” says Sisulu.

“The biggest driver of domestic travel in the first six months of 2022 was the easing of Covid-19 travel restrictions.

South African Tourism data shows that South Africans spend R 2,850 on their domestic trips. The biggest spend by category was on transport and accommodation. It is also the first time spending on leisure equalled spending on food, per trip.

Sho’t Left Travel Week

September is also the month when South African Tourism’s Sho’t Left Travel Week takes place, from 5-11 September 2022. These deals, designed to give South Africans affordable access to local travel, are packed with great travel deals, with airlines, hotel groups, tour operators and tourist attractions offering discounts of up to 50%.

Sisulu thanked the tourism trade for being part of Travel Week, calling it the Black Friday of Travel Deals. The minister encouraged South Africans to take advantage of these discounted rates to go out and explore all the beauty this country has to offer.

“We have sent out an invitation to the world to come and ‘Live Again’ with us, and I’d like to extend this invitation to you, to go out and book your next Sho’t Left, go out and enjoy your wondrous country.”

The deals can be bought through Waze, the Sho’t Left map, or by using the price, location, budget, and type filters on the Sho’t Left website.


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