International leisure tourism could take time to recover due to the slowing global economy amid elevated inflation and tightening monetary policy, according to Absa Research.
This is as tourism is recovering in South Africa after the wrecking ball of Covid-19 national shut-downs that disrupted the airline sector.
Absa said that although overseas tourist arrivals were five times larger on a year-on-year basis in July, the recovery from the pandemic shock was incomplete as arrivals were about half of what they were in quarter four of 2019, the pre-pandemic period.
This week, Statistics South Africa (Stats SA) reported that in July, 2 075 688 travellers (arrivals, departures, and transits) passed through South Africa’s ports of entry/exit.
Travellers were made up of 715 714 South African residents and 1 359 974 foreign travellers. Foreign arrivals at 737 350 were made up of 66 571 non-visitors and 670 779 visitors. The visitors consisted of 162 955 same-day visitors and 507 824 overnight tourists.
The breakdown of the tourists by region saw 122 720 coming from overseas, 376 566 from the SADC countries, 7 740 from 'other' African countries, while the country of residence of 798 tourists was classified as unspecified.
Stats SA said overseas tourist arrivals moderated by 6% month-on-month (m/m) in July after rising for six consecutive months. Notably, the June outcome was revised sharply higher, from a decline of 5.6% m/m to an increase of 13.5% m/m.
Earlier this month, South Africa’s tourism industry challenged the country’s security cluster to get a grip on the high rate of crime and called for sensitivity in the manner in which crime statistics are published as they have the potential of putting off inbound travellers.
The Tourism Business Index compiled by the Tourism Business Council of South Africa (TBCSA) identified safety and security as the fourth negative factor in the outlook for July to December 2022 after the cost of labour, cost inputs, and the natural disaster crisis.
TBCSA said that 54% of respondents surveyed had cited safety and security as one of the issues in South Africa that had a significantly negative impact on their business.
TBCSA chief executive Tshifhiwa Tshifhiwa said the tourism industry needed to hit its target of 15.6 million inbound tourists by 2030 to add jobs to this economy.
Earlier this month, Tshivenga was also upbeat on the prospects of the sector for this coming season, saying that expected a lot more people to travel this coming summer both domestically and internationally.
“We do know that there are airlines that are launching seasonal flights to South Africa. We do know that in the northern hemisphere, it will be cold, and gas shortages may drive many people to travel here,” Tshivenga said.
In the first half of the year, 15.2 million domestic trips were taken, marking a 114 percent increase when compared to the same period last year. This was way above the same period in 2019, which saw 8.6 million domestic trips taken.