Cape Town, South Africa (PressExposure) June 13, 2008 -- A vital aspect of any country's economy, South Africa's tourism industry has doubled its contribution to the economy from ten years ago and is expected to increase its share of the GDP to 12% by 2014. Challenges such as inflation and crime rates affect the tourism industry as much, if not more than other industries.
For companies like iKapa Tours and Travel, whose business is based on transporting tourists all over the country, the increasing fuel price affects its core business. "We need to print our price lists within brochures a year in advance, obviously taking the cost of fuel into account, but are finding it difficult to set our prices," comments Kobus van Heerden, Managing Director of iKapa.
Despite the challenge of petrol price hikes, February 2008 saw an increase in 10,2% in visitors to South Africa compared to the same month in 2007. South Africa is growing in popularity as a tourist destination worldwide and along with the weakening rand (which will encourage international guests to travel) this is good news for the industry. "The weak rand means that more international visitors are drawn to our shores, especially those who are cost-aware. There are many opportunities to increase business," says van Heerden.
Taking this into account, the tourism industry still has a lot of room for growth. Particularly in comparison to other sectors of South Africa's economy such as retail and trade, which is likely to see a drop in consumer spending due to the higher petrol price.
"The change in economic climate not only in South Africa, but Zimbabwe too, indicates a favourable time for us to invest in tourism there. We are proud to have assisted in tours around Victoria Falls and we feel that this is a good area to invest in," van Heerden says. The town of Victoria Falls has grown from a large concentration of tourism in the area and as a result, is geared towards tourists.
With economic challenges facing the tourism industry, careful planning is important just as with any industry and business. This sector, however, is one amongst few that will remain with its head above water in these turbulent economic times.