Tourism role players across the globe have expressed concern over the impact of rising fuel prices and the costs involved in travel for long-haul and domestic tourism.
According to the 2010/2011 ITB World Travel Trends Report, in 2010 world travel bounced back from the downturn experienced during 2009, and looks set to grow in 2011. Growth is driven predominantly by improving world economic conditions and by higher levels of consumer spending. According to experts, international tourism in 2011 is expected to grow by 3 to 5% on the “all-time” highs of previous years.
The travel industry is, however, an extremely fragile one and is easily influenced by changing global conditions, be it political, environmental or economic, such as the unrest recently seen in the Middle East, the earthquake and tsunami in Japan, rising fuel prices and fluctuating currencies.
As fuel and electricity prices continue to rise, the knock-on effect felt by consumers will potentially play havoc with bookings and profit margins in the tourism sector.
International arrivals may decrease (particularly from destinations still recovering from a recession) as the cost of airline tickets might rise due to the increase in world oil prices. British Airways yesterday announced an increase in fuel surcharges on long-haul flights. This has the potential to further affect arrivals from the United Kingdom, our primary source market, which has seen stagnation of outbound international travel over the last year.
To add further strain on the South African tourism industry, the strengthening rand is driving international tourists to (often shorter-haul) destinations that offer more value for their money.
For tourism companies in Cape Town, and South Africa, it is getting ever more difficult to turn both international and domestic enquiries into bookings, as travellers are generally being more careful with their money. In addition, these companies are spending more on offering the same packages they always have.
Many tour operators in South Africa are having to cut or absorb costs as far as possible, as well as work more efficiently in order to cleverly reduce costs and kilometres; as opposed to putting up package prices, which would only serve to propel travellers away even further.
Says Cape Town Tourism CEO Mariëtte du Toit-Helmbold: “As a long-haul destination, we must offer a clearer vision of what we are selling overseas, what a visitor can expect and that one can experience the ultimate in luxury (at the price that that comes at) or the best in budget accommodation, all in one inspirational destination. Greed is transparent and will chase away customers. Value for money is the order of the day, whether on a large or small scale. We need to package our destination in a more competitive, diverse and creative way that offers the visitor incredible, once-in-a-lifetime experiences. Added value has to be our focus.”
While international source markets remain important, it is becoming more and more important to shift at least some focus to the domestic and African markets, closer to home.
“For those travelling to Cape Town over the next few months, there is a solution to the travel cost issue,” continues Du Toit-Helmbold, “Offset your travel costs by tapping into Cape Town’s great Easter and winter specials.”
Cape Town Winters are Cool… is a campaign targeted at winter travellers looking to relax, spend time with their kids and enjoy the best of the Cape’s food and wine. The campaign will go live in time for Easter and identifies great winter deals through a central website portal on http://www.capetown.travel.
Says Du Toit-Helmbold: “Staying ahead in travel and tourism today requires that we are agile, value-driven and multi-focused. Our domestic market is increasingly important to us and winter is the perfect time to roll out the red carpet on affordability for our customers, many of them right on our doorstep.”