Tourism records 0% growth in October ‘due to visa rules’

Photo: Moneyweb

Former minister of Home Affairs Malusi Gigaba’s travel policies about children were still impacting SA tourism despite having been “relaxed”, with the industry recording zero growth in October 2018.

The numbers came from Stats SA’s report on tourist accommodation released yesterday, and the comment on the policy from Tourism Business Council of South Africa’s (TBCSA) interim CEO Tshifhiwa Tshivhengwa.

“We imposed all these rules on international travellers and now we can see the results for ourselves,” Tshivhengwa said.

“As much as we are saying visas have been relaxed, in that if you’re coming from a country where the details of the parents are reflected in the child’s passport then you don’t have to carry any documentation because that will be enough, guess what? None of our source markets have passports for children which reflect details of the parents.”

It’s an overlooked glitch which is blocking South Africa’s attempts to attract visitors from the UK or France, for instance. SA and India were two of the few countries who were doing it and India was considering doing away with it, Tshivhengwa noted.

“Income from accommodation decreased by 0.2% year-on-year in October 2018, the result of a 1.6% decrease in the number of stay unit nights sold and a 1.4% increase in the average income per stay unit night sold,” Stats SA reported on tourism accommodation.

While the graphic reflects three-month changes, StatsSA’s numbers were calculated on a year-on-year basis.

“In October 2018, the types of accommodation that recorded negative year-on-year growth in income from accommodation were guest houses and guest farms [-22.8% and contributing -1.8 percentage points] and hotels [-1.7% and contributing -1.1 percentage points].”

Meanwhile, income from accommodation increased by 1.9% in the three months ended October 2018 compared with the three months ended October 2017. Tshivhengwa said businesses were raising prices to stay open and keep people employed.

“The alternative is retrenchments. When you cut costs, people are the first to go,” said Tshivhengwa. “We have to ask ourselves, are we serious about tourism as a country, do we view tourism as a catalyst for economic growth or for job creation?

“If the answer to these questions is yes, then we ought to get serious.”

Amanda Watson / The Citizen