Boston, MA -- (SBWIRE) -- 04/15/2014 -- The most recent tourist arrivals data (for January to October 2013) show that total arrivals were up by only 4% year-on-year (y-o-y) to 7.8mn. Consequently, BMI has decided to revise down its estimate for full-year 2013 arrivals growth to 5%, from 9% previously. This would place arrivals at around 9.7mn for the year. Although official data for 2013 are yet to be released, in January 2014 the South African Broadcasting Corporation quoted Mandlakazi Skefile from the Eastern Cape Tourism Board as saying that South Africa registered nearly 10mn international visitors in 2013.
Anecdotal evidence suggests that 2013 has been another positive year for international tourism receipts, with the depreciation of the South African rand having driven higher spending by foreign tourists. In Cape Town alone, foreign tourists reportedly spent some ZAR12.7bn (US$1.2bn) over the past year. According to comments from Cape Town Tourism CEO Enver Duminy, as cited by AFP in January 2014: 'If you look at our key source markets - UK, US, Germany, Netherlands - the exchange rate is in the favour of those travellers'.
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The South African government currently has ambitious targets for increasing foreign tourist arrivals over the coming years, targeting 12mn by 2015 and 15mn by 2020. BMI's forecasts are slightly more cautious. However, we remain broadly optimistic for the tourism sector's outlook overall, with the industry set to continue to receive strong levels of government support over our forecast period.
With regards to the hotel segment, rising numbers of both leisure and business travellers visiting South Africa, many from Asia and the Middle East, will very likely attract additional international hotel chains to set up hotels in East Africa's biggest economy. Early indications for the South African hotel industry in 2014 appear encouraging, with a report by hotel consultancy group STR Global stating that Cape Town registered a 13.3% annual rise in occupancy rates, to 73%, over January 2014. Investor attention is largely focused on the major cities of Cape Town, Johannesburg and Pretoria; however, BMI believes there could also be scope for major hotel chains to look beyond the main cities for additional investment opportunities.
Industry trends and developments:
- In January 2014, Marriott International agreed to pay ZAR2bn (US$186mn) for domestic hotel chain Protea Hotels, giving the US hotel major access to the 116 hotels (10,184 rooms) operated or franchised by Protea across seven Sub-Saharan African nations. The deal - which covers Protea's hotel management company as well as its three hotel brands - is set to be closed on April 1 2014. Once the deal is closed, Marriott will manage some 45% of the rooms, franchise approximately 39% of the rooms and lease around 16%, according to a company press release.
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