Strong rebound in domestic tourism over Easter Weekend

Large volumes of traffic at Sir Lawry's Pass as many people rertuning to Cape Town from Easter holidays. Picture by BHEKI RADEBE

Large volumes of traffic at Sir Lawry's Pass as many people rertuning to Cape Town from Easter holidays. Picture by BHEKI RADEBE

Published Apr 19, 2023


The Easter Weekend proved vital for the tourism industry in South Africa as FNB announced that it saw an increase of 27% in turnover on its merchant services platform with a 15% year-on-year increase in transaction volumes.

The bank said that this points to a strong rebound in domestic tourism activity, building on the momentum gained in 2022 following the negative financial impact of the Covid-19 pandemic.

Thokozani Dlamini, FNB Merchant Services CEO, says local demand for travelling over the Easter Weekend continued to surge, with the bulk of tourism spend within our base being dominated by lodging with an increase of 229%, followed by airlines, car rentals and travel agents at 82%, 19% and 58% respectively, with the overall contribution to tourism turnover compared to the same period last year.

During the 2022 calendar year, the airline industry witnessed an over 100% increase in growth from 2021.

“Increasing from R4bn to R10bn this year, it is still the leading contributor to tourism spend, followed by lodging and travel agents, which remain the top three contributors from 2022,” the bank said.

“Given that the Easter Weekend is dominated by domestic tourism, it is no surprise that accommodation and lodging, which largely feature overnight, and a few days stays, performed well. Moreover, as many consumers continue to navigate through the tough economic environment, they are likely to opt for more budget friendly getaway experiences,” adds Dlamini.

Another notable milestone was the 507% increase in the use of buses over the Easter Weekend.

“This is positive for the long-distance bus industry, which is still a long way from recovering from the severe financial impact of the Covid-19 pandemic, with some operators having had to close shop. Again, this remains a cost-effective way of travelling around the country for some consumers, compared to the cost of buying an air ticket,” says Dlamini.

Overall travel increased by 27% for the Easter Weekend compared to last year.

“The rebound in domestic tourism activity is important for many small businesses which were hardest hit as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic. The hospitality and travel sectors, together with popular tourism-linked businesses, continue to benefit with increased growth already matching pre-Covid levels in some areas,” says Dlamini.

A strong recovery of 127% increase in tourism spend over the Easter Weekend was also seen across all nine provinces, with Eastern Cape contributing (136%), Free State (114%), Gauteng (128%), Limpopo (137%), Mpumalanga (117%), North-West (110%), Western Cape (139%), with KwaZulu-Natal and Northern Cape just shy of 100%.