According to Obed Bapela, Deputy Chairperson of the ANC International Relations Committee, this year the combined GDP of BRICS countries will exceed that of the G7 countries for the first time.
In an interview on Monday with Newzroom Afrika, Bapela said that South Africa had to take into account the growth of BRICS when considering its economic interests.
He was responding to a question about the news that Russian president Vladimir Putin had ruled out a virtual appearance at the BRICS conference scheduled for August 22. The question to Bapela: Was the ANC putting the South African economy in jeopardy because of its sentimental links to the old Soviet Union?
Bapela replied that it is up to Europe and the USA to do what they wanted, but that when it came to our economic future BRICS was in growth mode.
For the tourism industry that attitude could be its death knell.
The ANC needs to be made aware of this before they provoke a response that cripples the one industry in a position to sparkle.
The statistic that best describes the dependence of our tourism sector on Europe and the USA can be found by looking at air access. Direct non-stop flights are the lifeblood of inter-continental tourism.
If the ANC thinks they can switch overnight to BRICS countries as a replacement for tourists from Europe and the USA, they need to consider not only that SAA no longer has inter-continental routes but that not one BRICS partner country has an airline flying into South Africa.
In August, the month that Putin is scheduled to arrive, it is low season and yet at least 352 widebody aircraft will arrive from Europe and 100 from the USA. That is just to Johannesburg and Cape Town and excludes seasonal flights.
According to the latest inbound tourism figures from Statistics South Africa, the combined numbers of BRICS residents touring South Africa in March this year was 10 934, equating to just 9% of Europe alone (120 004).
Someone needs to explain this to the ANC – quickly.