While inbound travel to South Africa has yet to recover, domestic tourism is making a strong comeback, according to Gerriline Fouché, Head of Marketing at local accommodation booking website, LekkeSlaap.co.za.
“February, March, and April this year have proven to be exceptional booking months, with volumes surpassing the same period in 2019. In contrast to booking volumes that plummeted to zero in March 2020, current spikes in booking volumes clearly indicate that domestic travel has staged a remarkable recovery,” Fouché says.
LekkeSlaap’s increased booking volumes are contrary to new survey data released recently by by Stats SA, which indicates a decline of 72.9% in the overall income generated in the tourism industry for this January, compared to the same month last year.
“While we did see a decline in bookings over December 2020 due to beach closures and other restrictions, we saw an uptick in bookings once these restrictions were lifted. Although a slightly lower revenue was expected during this time, the sharp increase in bookings from February, and the upward trajectory that continued thereafter does not echo the figures released by Stats SA. We’re already gearing up for a busy 2021 festive season, with many popular towns already starting to fill up for the Christmas period,” Fouché explains.
When asked whether LekkeSlaap had expected such a quick recovery, Fouché indicated that none of its forecasts had predicted this upward trend to occur as soon as it did. During a survey conducted by the company in May 2020, 55.2% of accommodation business owners expected booking volumes to only return to normal levels by the 2020 festive season.
However, LekkeSlaap was already reaching record-number booking days in September 2020.
Fouché surmises that LekkeSlaap’s business-as-usual trajectory can largely be attributed to the company’s emphasis on domestic travel, while the lack of international travellers visiting South Africa is likely the main source of the larger tourism sector’s woes.
“We consider ourselves incredibly lucky. Many businesses in the accommodation sector suffered greatly due to the pandemic and some continue to struggle to get back on their feet. To be able to say that LekkeSlaap has experienced a strong recovery despite the many challenges the industry continues to face is a privilege we do not take for granted.”