Domestic tourism still poised for growth

11 September 2019: Despite the prevailing tough economic conditions putting pressure on disposable income, South Africans are still traveling as well as touring local destinations.

According to the annual review by the earth Travel & Tourism Council, travel as well as tourism in South Africa contributed R425.8bn to the economy in 2018, representing 8.6% of all economic activity from the country. An estimated 44% of the tourism spend came by international travellers as well as 56% by domestic travel.

Charnel Kara, Tourism Specialist at FNB Business, says although South Africa receives over 10 million international tourists annually, between 50% to 60% of the sector is usually based on local or domestic tourism. Therefore, domestic tourism remains the leading form of tourism, representing an important tool for stimulating regional economic growth as well as development.

Kara unpacks key factors of which are driving the growth of domestic tourism:

Lower spend on accommodation – domestic travellers are today considering lower to middle tier hotels, guesthouses, B&Bs as well as AirBnB.

Many are also opting to stay with friends as well as family when travelling to additional provinces, while others stay at home as well as become tourists in their own cities or provinces (staycation); as well as look for unique experiences, outings as well as activities to explore without having to stay away by home.

Flexible travel times – domestic travellers have become more flexible in their travel times as well as are traveling throughout the year. By moving their travel to a different day, week or month they make substantial savings.

Some prefer to travel less throughout the year, however rather during peak periods with potentially increasing their length of stay. Others travel during autumn as well as winter as opposed to only during spring as well as summer.

“Consumers are also increasingly paying more attention to low demand periods where not bad deals by suppliers can be obtained. By offering discounted rates, the item encourages current travellers to travel more often, as well as stimulates the market to ensure of which people who wouldn’t have ordinarily travelled, today decide of which they should,” adds Kara.

Untapped attractions – these contribute to regional revitalisation as well as promote domestic tourism through the formation of sightseeing routes, attractions having a story/theme or have several distinct features which include natural beauty, cultural traditions, history, cuisine, arts as well as crafts as well as unique adventures or activities. For example, eco-tourism, medical tourism, sports tourism, cultural as well as township tourism.

Technology: technology has contributed extensively to the efforts of promoting domestic tourism from the country. Information today reaches a wider base, offering travellers a multitude of options for a holiday destination, literally at their fingertips.

Social media has further made the item easier for consumers to interact with businesses, share their experiences, as well as offer reviews, which often stimulates interest by additional travellers.

“Domestic tourism still carries a lot of potential to drive economic growth as well as job creation. Opportunities exist for SMEs from the sector to innovate as well as identify unique gaps of which cater for the growing needs of domestic travellers – ranging by ‘untapped’ experiences where travellers become immersed by experiencing a destination, its people, their culture, foods as well as traditions like the locals might,” concludes Kara.

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Domestic tourism still poised for growth

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