PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC) team of hotel specialists provided an overview of how the hotel industry is expected to develop over the coming years, on Thursday (July 5) at 54 on Bath in Johannesburg.
The report titled ‘PwC Hotels outlook: 2018-2022: South Africa – Nigeria – Mauritius – Kenya – Tanzania’, unpacked arrivals into South Africa, and the barriers that are still in place, such as visa requirements and unabridged birth certificates.
“The outlook for 2018 remains positive, albeit at lower percentages than in 2016. We forecast that foreign visitors and domestic tourism will increase by 5.3% in 2018. There is also continued debate about further visa relaxation of visa requirements for international visitors, and this may impact on our growth forecast,” says Pietro Calicchio, PwC Southern Africa Hospitality Industry Leader.
International visitor numbers to SA continued to grow with a 2.4% increase overall in 2017. The growth in visitor numbers from non-African countries increased by 7.2% in the same year.
Top source markets for SA from non-African countries were Brazil, France and Germany recording the largest increases. The number of visitors from Canada, the US, Netherlands and Australia posted mid- to high-single-digit increases, while the UK held steady and China declined.
Latin America recorded the largest increase in 2017 with a 59.3% gain, principally fuelled by a 74.7% rise in the number of visitors from Brazil. Visitors from Europe rose 7.6% in 2017. North America increased by 7.8% and the Middle East rose 4.4%.
The decline in China led to a 1.9% decrease for all of Asia Pacific, while visitors from Africa were essentially flat following an 11.2% increase in 2016.
However visitors from China fell 17% in 2017, while travellers from India rose a modest 2.7%, well below the 21.7% increase recorded in 2016. In both cases, the incremental benefits from the lifting of visa requirements were largely realised in 2016.
The growth from the various non-African markets resulted in an overall 7.2% increase in foreign visitor numbers from outside of Africa.
The relaxation of visa regulations played a large role in boosting tourism in 2016, particularly from China and India. It continued to have a positive impact in 2017, with an increase in visits from Russia, according to the report.
As of April 2017, Russian citizens no longer require a visitor visas to enter SA and vice versa. This was brought about by the FIFA World Cup, with the intention of making it easier for South Africans to plan a trip to Russia without the hassle of incurring visa costs. The scrapping of visa requirements between the two countries should promote travel and tourism among citizens of Russia and SA, and has already led to a 52% increase in Russian visitors to SA in 2017.
In a recent interview conducted by PwC, David Frost, CEO of the Southern Africa Tourism Services Association (Satsa) noted that there were renewed efforts to revisit the unabridged birth certificate requirement and other visa regulations to make it easier for tourists to visit the country. This is particularly relevant where South Africa has key relationships with other countries, such as China, New Zealand and India.
The global economy, a key driver of foreign tourism, picked up noticeably in 2017, with a 3% gain, its largest since 2010. Growth is expected to remain roughly at that level over the next five years, which will have a positive impact on foreign tourism.
Calicchio says PwC predicts future growth in visitor numbers.