The roads are less travelled

The roads are less travelled

Before you plan your next family holiday, you may want to have a look at the latest Domestic Tourism Survey released by Statistics South Africa recently. While the survey shows a decline in the total number of day trips and overnight trips taken within South Africa since 2013, it also reveals how economic stagnation and re-prioritisation of consumer spending has affected the tourism industry in South Africa.

According to the survey, the total number of day trips decreased by 5 million while overnight trips decreased by about 3 million from 2015 to 2016. The results show that people have been cautious about their travel patterns. Instead of taking trips throughout the year, day travellers and tourists have opted to travel during December, the Easter holidays; or June and September, which are typically months in which there are school holidays.

With South Africa experiencing low levels of economic growth and a high unemployment rate, people have been careful about how they spend their money. Households choose to spend on basic necessities that will benefit their welfare, rather than on domestic travel which is usually perceived as a luxury.

This is borne out of the finding that more than a quarter of people who did not take day or overnight trips mentioned the lack of finances as the reasons for not travelling in 2015 and 2016. Domestic tourists were largely driven by the middle and higher living standard measure (LSM) subgroups 5–7 and 8–10 who may have more disposable income.

A visit to friends and relatives was the most popular reason for undertaking overnight trips, with approximately 12 million trips taken for this reason in 2016. Nearly 3 out of 4 people who undertook overnight trips opted to stay with friends and relatives rather than pay for accommodation. However, there were about 14,8 million paid bed nights spent on overnight trips in 2016. Of this total, 4,1 million were spent in the Western Cape and 4,0 million in KwaZulu-Natal. The Northern Cape had the lowest number of paid bed nights at only 306 000.

It is interesting to note that in 2015 and 2016, Gauteng, Limpopo and Western Cape were the most popular destinations for day travellers, whereas tourists (those who undertook overnight trips) preferred visiting Limpopo. In 2015, Eastern Cape was the second most popular province for tourist visits, followed by KwaZulu-Natal. However, in 2016 Gauteng was the second most popular province for tourist visits, with KZN once again in third spot.

According to the Tourism Satellite Account 2015, one in 22 employed people in South Africa work in the tourism industry, representing 4,5% of the total workforce. For the tourism sector, this equates to about 711 746 jobs that are dependent on the industry performing well.1

For more information, download the Domestic Tourism Survey, 2016 report here.

1 Tourism Satellite Account for South Africa, 2015 (download here).