SA's battered tourism sector is slowly recovering, but its income streams remain less than half of that obtained before the pandemic - with the notable exception of caravan parks and campsites. A faster vaccination roll-out is the shot in the arm that the industry requires.
Measured in current prices, the total income of South Africa's tourist accommodation industry rose by 56.9% in September 2021 compared with the same month in 2020, Statistics South Africa (Stats SA) said on Monday. If just income from accommodation is included - so restaurant/bar sales and "other" income is excluded - the increase was 74.4%.
This is no shocker as there were still plenty of lockdown restrictions in place in September of last year, though bans on interprovincial travel for leisure purposes had been lifted. But what is really revealing about the data is to look at it over the April to September period and also for 2019, which underscores the scale of the horror that was unleashed on the tourism sector during the initial hard lockdowns. (See charts below)
Take, for example, the numbers for April. Total income for the tourist sector soared by almost 3,000% in April of this year compared with that...