Why improved tourism is positive for property

Two years ago, SA was gearing up to host the Soccer World Cup – and looking forward to a major economic injection from the thousands of tourists who flocked into the country to watch the games and support their favourite teams.

“But since then,” says Aida CEO Young Carr, “there has not been nearly as much said about tourism or its value to the country, even though hosting the World Cup undoubtedly helped SA to weather the effects of the worldwide financial crisis better than most.

“A thriving tourism industry is still, however, vital to all of us, and especially the real estate industry, as it is an important catalyst for the creation of new jobs and thus a means to help more South Africans realise their dream of owning a home.”

Responding to the release of the latest tourism statistics, he said it was thus very encouraging to see that both domestic tourism and the number of foreign visitors to South Africa appeared to be on the increase once more, following a decline during most of 2011.

The latest Department of Home Affairs figures show, for instance, that some 3,7m travellers moved in and out of SA during December – with more than 2,5m of these people being foreigners, mostly from other SADC countries, the UK, the US and Germany.

Meanwhile, the Western Cape Tourism Marketing Agency reported recently that the province’s tourism industry had been flourishing since December, and that the rise in domestic tourism was especially noticeable.

In addition, the latest results of the Tourism Business Index backed by the national Tourism Business Council (TBCSA) and FNB show a marked improvement in business performance for the last quarter of 2011. The index registered 87,3 in the quarter, up from 70,0 in the previous quarter and well ahead of the 80,7 expected by the industry. What is more, the expected index for the first quarter of this year is 82,2, despite the fact that these are usually the slowest months for the tourism industry in the aftermath of the festive season.

“TBCSA head Mmatsatsi Marobe recently appealed to private sector players in the industry to pay more attention to attracting domestic and SADC tourists,” notes Carr, “and we agree that given the current economic problems in Europe and other parts of the world, this is probably where the most potential for growth lies.

“And once again, that growth is vital in SA’s campaign to create employment. Tourism provides both the motivation and the means for many people to start their own businesses - including guesthouses, craft and curio shops, restaurants and specialist tour companies – and in due course to create jobs for others.

“It has certainly been a lifesaver for many small towns in the past few years and from a real estate point of view, we have seen that there is always an increase in home buying activity in areas where new jobs are being created through tourism.”

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