New catalysts are needed to improve the underperforming South African economy, particularly for the tourism industry.

This is according to City Lodge Hotel Group (CLHG) CEO, Andrew Widegger, who expressed the group’s desire to see the Minister of Finance, Tito Mboweni, addressing this in his National Budget Speech on February 26.

Delivering CLHG’s interim results for the first six months ending December 2019, Widegger highlighted that – due to a challenging operating environment impacted by persistently low levels of business and consumer confidence – the group’s average occupancies in South Africa fell to 57% from 61% in the previous interim period. Average occupancies across all of the group’s operations fell to 54% from 58%.

“The group is encouraged by some new government initiatives such as the e-Visa system being piloted in Kenya and the long-awaited scrapping of the requirement for unabridged birth certificates for foreign minors. These are both measures that can assist the growth of inbound tourism to South Africa,” said Widegger, adding, however, that the coronavirus might have a negative impact on global travel.

He pointed out that, moving forward, efforts by government to restructure Eskom and other state-owned enterprises, would also help to boost economic growth.  

CLHG took the initiative last year to ensure the roll-out of solar power generation capabilities at 25 of the group’s hotels. “These systems will generate sufficient energy to supply around 30% of each of these hotel’s energy demands, and will lower the group’s overall energy consumption from non-renewable sources by approximately 10%.,” said Widegger.