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South Africa’s travel and tourism sector slightly recovers, but at slow pace

The South African travel and tourism sector continues to recover slowly but surely from years of contraction and distress despite still facing various challenges.

A report released by the Tourism Business Council of South Africa (TBCSA) on Wednesday shows that the industry experienced slightly better than normal business performance in the last quarter of 2016. The sector scored a tourism business index (TBI) of 104.5 during the said period – slightly higher than the anticipated index of 81.7 against a normal performance score of 100.

However, the 2016 overall performance – which is believed to have been better than 2015 – was not sufficient enough to satisfy the authorities and industry watchers.

“We welcome the general improvement in business performance over this period. However, the indication of a steady decline in performance over the past three years is still a cause for concern,” TBCSA CEO Mmatšatši Ramawela said in a statement.

The Pretoria-based institution deplores the sector’s continuous soft decline seen since the best years of 2013 when the average for the year was just below 110. This once again draws attention to the challenges businesses are facing in the operating environment, the 25th edition of the quarterly report said.

Nevertheless, the report speaks of a ‘better than normal performance’ by the country’s tour and coach operators, vehicle rental companies, airlines, travel agents, retail outlets, foreign exchange traders, and conference venues and attractions.

These entities recorded an index score of 116.1, which is better significantly higher than the forecast score of 69.9, TBSCA said. But then again, the performance puts only a ‘little’ smile on the authorities’ faces.

Ramawela said: “The last quarter of the year is typically a busy time for those who largely cater for the domestic and the foreign leisure markets. Seemingly, the index results are suggesting that operators were not as busy in the last quarter of 2016.”

Image: South African Tourism

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