South Africa’s hotels recorded an occupancy rate of 20% in August 2021, data from StatsSA shows. The country’s tourism sector continues to recover from the devastating impact of the Covid-19 pandemic.
This is expected to ramp up significantly as we head towards the December holidays, and after president Cyril Ramaphosa moved the country to lockdown level 1 at the end of last month.
Income from accommodation increased by 119% year-on-year in August 2021, the result of a 133.6% increase in the number of stay unit nights sold and a 6.2% decrease in the average income per stay unit night sold.
In August 2021, all accommodation types recorded large positive year-on-year growth in income from accommodation. The largest year-on-year increases were reported by:
- Caravan parks and camping sites (263.2% and contributing 4.4 percentage points); and
- Guest-houses and guest-farms (257.9% and contributing 8.4 percentage points).
Measured in nominal terms (current prices), total income for the tourist accommodation industry increased by 88.3% in August 2021 compared with August 2020, StatsSA said.
Seasonally adjusted income from accommodation increased by 33.1% month-on-month in August 2021. The largest positive month-on-month growth rates were recorded for: guest-houses and guest-farms (64.6%); and hotels (57.1%).
South Africa’s tourism sector lost an estimated R164 billion in spending by domestic and inbound visitors to the country in 2020 because of the Covid-19 pandemic.
The Bureau for Economic Research (BER) at the University of Stellenbosch said that the number of jobs supported by South Africa’s tourism industry declined by 960,000 to 640,000 in 2020 from 1.6 million in 2018 as spending by domestic and inbound visitors slumped to R109 billion in 2020 from R273 billion in 2018.
It based the estimated expenditure by domestic and inbound visitors on the decline in visitor ratios and then applied it to 2018 tourist expenditure data, the most recent available data.
The bureau said internal tourism expenditure totalled R273 billion in 2018, with domestic spending representing the bulk of this spending at 56.1%. Through spillovers into the rest of the economy, spending accounted for 7.2% or R385 billion of total GDP in 2018.
The BER further estimated that based on tourism expenditure in 2020, the sector’s contribution to GDP shrank to 2.9% in 2020 from 7.2% in 2018. The bureau based the knock-on effects of loss in tourism expenditure to fewer travellers, resulting in less spending by domestic and inbound visitors and therefore a smaller contribution to GDP and fewer jobs supported by the industry.
“The tourism sector is without a doubt one of the industries that has been hardest hit by the Covid-19 pandemic,” it said. The BER said the number of day trips in 2020 dropped by 54% compared to 2019 while overnight trips were 40% lower.
The BER said seasonally adjusted income from accommodation was still down 74% in July 2021 compared to July 2019, with income in July this year 53% lower than in June due to stricter lockdown regulations and the unrest in KwaZulu-Natal and Gauteng.