Destination trends

Demand for South Africa slows on German market

Demand for holidays in South Africa is slowing after two strong years due to diverse factors, according to German tour operators and other experts.

May 30, 2018
Cape Town is one of South Africa’s top tourist attractions
Photo: Cape Town Tourism

South Africa was one of the destination winners in the last two years with strong double-digit growth. Visitor numbers from Germany increased by 21.5% to 312,000 in 2016 and then by a further 12% to 349,000 in 2017. However, growth slowed to a moderate 3.6% increase in January and February this year, according to figures from South African Tourism.

Experts at the Indaba travel trade fair in Durban earlier this month were uncertain whether South Africa will manage to welcome more German visitors this year or not, given the stronger rand, local price increases and recovery of other destinations. For example, Michael Bentele, Europe chief of South African Airways, expects stagnating passenger numbers on Germany routes this year.

Martin Wiest, CEO of Tourvest, the biggest incoming agency and partner of Dertour/Meiers Weltreisen and FTI, said figures look good for the first half-year but demand is much weaker for the second half of 2018. Petra Fraatz, product manager for southern Africa at Dertour/Meiers Weltreisen, said the widespread publicity surrounding the water shortage affecting Cape Town had negatively impacted demand.

However, Roland Juncker, senior product manager with Thomas Cook, pointed out that many factors had favoured South Africa in the last two years, and these would not necessarily continue indefinitely.

German tour operators have fine-tuned their South Africa programmes for this year but there are no major changes in products or capacity. However, TUI has reduced prices by 3% on average and is also offering a €100 discount for 2019 bookings made by this September.

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