Green shoots encouraging, but saving our summer season must be the focus

The StatsSA reports on Accommodation and Food and Beverage performance in South Africa are showing signs of recovery for the tourism and hospitality sector, but for this growth to be sustained and to save our summer season we need South Africans to get vaccinated in great numbers.

So says Rosemary Anderson, National Chairperson of FEDHASA, who has welcomed the green shoots that are being seen by accommodation establishments and food and beverage outlets compared with numbers for the same period in 2020.

“We are grateful to South Africans for supporting our tourism and hospitality sector over the past year – eating out and enjoying domestic holidays – which has helped the sector achieve the 44,6% increase in food and beverage income and 88,3% increase in accommodation income in August 2021, compared with last year August,” says Anderson.

StatsSA’s Food and Beverages key report for August also indicates that restaurants and coffee shops had the highest annual growth rate (77,9%), whilst the largest annual growth rate was recorded for bar sales (145,7%). Total income increased by 57,9% in the three months ended August 2021, compared with the three months ended August 2020; the main contributors being restaurants and coffee shops, and takeaway and fast-food outlets.

In the tourist accommodation space, income from accommodation increased by 119% in August 2021, the result of a 133,6% increase in the number of stay unit nights sold and a 6,2% decrease in the average income per stay unit night sold.

“We are seeing accommodation types like caravan parks and camping sites, and guesthouses and guest farms achieving the largest year-on-year increases in income,” says Anderson.

Income from accommodation increased by 237,0% in the three months ended August 2021 compared with the three months ended August 2020. The main contributors to this increase were accommodation establishments classed as ‘other’ (232,0% and contributing 113,4 percentage points); and hotels (213,5% and contributing 99,5 percentage points).

“As we go into our peak summer holiday season, we call on all South Africans to help us keep our doors open by getting vaccinated and complying with our health and hygiene protocols to reduce pressure on our healthcare system. This will help our industry directly as government won’t have to put in place restrictions that will hamper our operations and prevent us from staying open, earning a livelihood and retaining jobs at the time of year when we are busiest,” says Anderson.

“Behind the closed doors and ‘for sale’ signs are thousands of livelihoods that have already been lost and hang in the balance every day our industry is forced to bear the brunt of lockdown regulations. Beyond this, the hospitality sector supports a deep supply chain that is similarly affected. We simply cannot afford to lose another peak season to the ravages of COVID lockdowns especially when we are seeing such an encouraging start to our summer season,” Anderson concludes.

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