SA Tourism to remain steady despite Ebola concerns

Wiza Nyondo
Wiza Nyondo

AS South Africa kicks-off Tourism Month, the African continent remains on high-alert in the wake of reported Ebola cases across select Western African countries. Locally, questions are being asked about the potential impact of Ebola on South Africa’s travel and tourism sector.

According to Wiza Nyondo, head of niche areas at FNB Business: “The South African tourism sector is likely to remain steady because the country is yet to detect any cases of Ebola among local or foreign citizens visiting the country. This positions South Africa as a relatively safe destination for tourists, compared to the affected countries.”

Understandably, South Africa has taken measures to temporarily suspend in-bound traffic from affected countries such as Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone – however, this will only have minimal impact on the overall sector because there isn’t an overwhelming amount of travellers from these countries into South Africa. More importantly, tourists from the affected countries don’t command spending power which could be equated to visitors from the likes of Europe, Australia or even the States,” Mr Nyondo said.

In its latest findings, the FNB Tourism Business Index reported a slight drop during the second quarter of 2014. The lower reading emanated from areas such as: travel agents, transport operators and conference centres. The accommodation sector still performed better than normal after achieving an index of 105.8, slightly ahead of the forecast performance index of 103.

Despite the slight decrease in the second quarter, the SA Tourism sector remains one of the better performing sectors in the country. The sustained growth is vital in boosting South Africa’s economic growth, which is yet to break the one per cent GDP growth per capita mark. Recently, Stats SA revealed that moderate economic growth in the send quarter resulted in a further downgrade of projected growth outlook for 2014.

“Tourism is one of the sectors which need to remain resilient in order to boost South Africa’s overall economic growth. The two remaining quarters of the year will be crucial in shaping the overall performance of the tourism sector in 2014,” Mr Nyondo concluded.