Locals urged to take a staycation this coming season

Josiah Montsho
While a weakened rand has many negative implications for the country’s economic growth and wellbeing, it is proving to boost tourism numbers and revenue as South Africa becomes an even more attractive holiday destination amongst international travellers. It is also positively impacting domestic travel figures as locals are increasingly opting to take “staycations” to save on travel costs.

This is according to Josiah Montsho, General Manager at Pepperclub Hotel & Spa – a five star hotel in Cape Town – who was speaking in light of the upcoming 2016/17 holiday season. “While the continued favourable exchange rate for international travellers is set to positively influence the increase of inbound tourism to the country, there is a clear shift of domestic travellers seeking local holiday destinations in South Africa, especially towards the end of the year over the holiday period.

“The weak exchange rate of the rand to other currencies, such as the dollar and the euro, means that many international holiday destinations are becoming increasingly unaffordable to locals and will have a definite impact on the travel decisions of many South Africans this coming festive season.”

Montsho says that this offers a real opportunity for the sector to capitalise on the local market as it prepares for the upcoming summer season. “Despite South Africa being rated as a top destination by many international awards, locals have tended to travel abroad for holidays rather than explore their own beautiful country. We need to be encouraging South Africans to ask what they can get from an overseas holiday that they can’t find somewhere in South Africa.”

He adds: “The current economic environment enables the tourism industry to promote ‘staycations’ more strongly to locals, and will likely see even greater results than past years.”

From 1 December 2015 to 7 January 2016, 5 390 856 visitors passed through South African borders, according to South African Tourism. These numbers show a 5.3% increase in traveller movements over the festive season compared to the same period the previous year. Cape Town Tourism showed that a foot count of visitors who made use of its tourism office network between October 2015 and March 2016, averaged 43% local and 57% international. The domestic numbers peaked during December and international peaked during March. 

Montsho notes that occupancy rates at Pepperclub Hotel & Spa have shown steady performance throughout the winter season, and based on queries and bookings already received, the hotel is expecting a busy summer season, given the attractive position of the rand for international travellers. In support of this expectation, he points to the recent Long Haul Holiday report by the UK’s Post Office Travel Money, which named Cape Town as the cheapest holiday destination, thereby positioning Cape Town as cheaper than 34 other destinations, such as Bali, for UK travellers.

“With all these factors attracting both local and international travellers to holiday across South Africa, the tourism sector is expected to do well over the next few months,” says Montsho.

The World Travel and Tourism Council has estimated that the South African tourism sector will contribute approximately R380 billion to the economy in 2016, which, given that South Africa’s current economic growth prospects are set at 0,4% for the year, is vitally important for the growth of the country.

“Tourism is a positive contributor to South Africa’s local GDP, and to further support the sector’s contribution, the industry needs to continue promoting South Africa as a must-visit and affordable destination to both the international and local markets,” concludes Montsho.