While travel and tourism in Africa is forging ahead, South Africa may become the fastest shrinking tourism market over the next year.

According to a statement by World Travel & Tourism Council (WTTC) on March 13, travel and tourism’s economic contribution on the continent grew by 5.6% in 2018, compared with the global average of 3.9%.

While WTTC did not break down figures for South Africa, in January this year the council forecast that travel and tourism’s economic contribution would rise by 2.9% in 2018.

In 2019, South Africa’s is likely to show a decline.

“The anticipated decline in 2019 will be somewhere between 15% and 25%,” says Martin Wiest, Tourvest Destination Management ceo.

Weist puts this down to South Africa’s price-value proposition, East Africa’s recovery as a tourism destination and the high cost of airfares into South Africa.

“A very strong resurgence of East Africa is taking passengers away from South Africa.”

He points out that relatively expensive airfares to South Africa compared to other destinations, including Kenya, is also hurting tourism. “Many airlines, report that Johannesburg is their most profitable route,” he says.

“We desperately need open skies if we want to change this,” says Wiest, adding that it’s unlikely to happen. He points out that the high yield on routes to Johannesburg is one of the factors pushing the prices up.