Tourism recovery – shifting goal posts – update August 2021

We are in for a rough ride, as if we haven’t had enough.

All the odds are stacked against our industry and what could have gone wrong did (red lists, riots, taxi violence, slowing vaccination rate, delayed carrier returns and the list goes on)

Earlier this month the indicator for travel return seems to have the destination’s vaccination rate and its vaccination status (towards herd immunity). As at last week:

  • SA have estimated 60 million people
  • 40 million needs to be vaccinated to reach the herd immunity which is 67%
  • Around 8 million have been vaccinated to date with 32 million to go (3.3m got 2 shots) 5.7% are fully vaccinated
  • Current rate is 150 000 p day x 7 days
  • thus R1.05m p week x 4 weeks = 4.2 million per month average
  • At this rate it will take 7,6 months which is 229 days
  • The end date from then +229 days would be Mar 2022 (Government’s original target was 41 million by Feb 2022)

The roll out started slow (initially due to) a lack of vaccines, then we had a world class vaccination rate. But now its switched from supply to demand: there are concerns as the rate have slowed down heavily and people seemingly not as eager any more. (See graph below).  Several say the older age group had a high compliance but the 35yo and younger are hesitant mainly due to a lack of trust. This could throw recovery back again as we will delay the herd immunity date which is already so far away (at the current we are looking at Apr/May next year). Government is so desperate all private institutions may soon administer the vaccine and they are opening up for ALL adults from 1 Sept onwards.

Here is some good news at least but it’s no guarantee:

  • Air Mauritius, BA, Emirates, Delta and United all have started or will soon start flying to SA
  • But here is the thing: vaccinated Germans are allowed to travel to SA since earlier this month, with no quarantining, yet they don’t? (In large numbers at least) maybe the general profile of traveller is someone that is against the vaccine?
  • The vaccine passport is now the new tool of measure, once the system is developed and adopted globally, we will see return of internationals, but we aren’t there yet

SA tourism bodies are jumping up and down against UK red list but for what? Like they going to say: ‘ok ok, wait we are coming’?  Vaccinated Britons red amber and green as follow:

  • Green: 1 test upon arriving back & no need to quarantine
  • Amber: 2 tests upon return and isolate at home for 5 days
  • Red: routine testing, isolate in hotel for 11 days – yes SA is on the red list

Looking at revenue movement there have constant reports the past 2-3 weeks of Nov/Dec/Jan pickups for all our accounts and some international bookings are coming in (Africa and US mainly) . But no where near in their numbers, not even at 50%.

We expect a season like we had in 2020, still 50-60% below 2019, and majority being domestic guests.

We found FB groups, WhatsApp, SMS & telegram is the new ‘normal’ for guests to communicate and book, be there – get the business. If you rely on OTA and elsewhere too much, you will lose out

Ourselves and some clients move to medium and long term let and closed all ancillary services (true for those that don’t have enough local travel or appeal to sustain) and I think this is the only way forward, we are nowhere near ‘done’ with covid and travel bans. New strains, new lockdowns will keep rolling in

Until next time

All the best

Jaco

(PS it could be worse, we could be in Australia or New Zealand!)