5 October 2007
Hosting the 2010 Fifa World Cup will present the South African hospitality industry with an ideal opportunity to showcase the country’s vibrant and growing tourism sector, delegates heard at the inaugural Hospitality Investment Conference Africa in Cape Town.
“It’s a perfect opportunity to showcase developments in the industry and to showcase the country,” Interval International’s Europe, Middle East and Africa managing director David Clifton said at the Arabella Sheraton Grand on Tuesday.
Interval is a multinational company that arranges vacation exchanges for timeshare owners, while Clifton has been in the industry since the 1970s.
“[There will be] millions of tourists visiting and the World Cup will give us an opportunity to show them that the government and the community can deliver.”
Addressing the conference, organised by the Tourism Business Council of SA (TBCSA), Clifton described the tourism sector as undergoing a major revitalisation and the effects thereof would spill over into the country in general.
“South Africa is ready for the new era as there is an emerging middle class who want quality and higher-end products,” he said.
Clifton said the hospitality industry was undergoing a major shift to the mixed use of hotels, where there is fractional as well as timeshare ownership within a high-quality hotel group.
“Hotel companies you’re familiar with will be regenerating products or bringing new products into great locations.”
A trend has also developed among “baby boomers” – the generation who are 60 or turning 60 at the moment – who are seeking holidays that offer more city and cultural life as opposed to beach holidays.
Clifton said while beach destinations remained the number one request from consumers, there was an increase in those seeking shorter breaks closer to the city.
Growth despite challenges
World Travel and Tourism Council President Jean-Claude Barmgarten said that despite major disasters, both natural and man-made, the travel and tourism industry continued to grow.
He said while the industry created jobs and wealth, it could also play a crucial role in making the planet a safer and cleaner place to live.
However, fragmentation remained a serious impediment to Africa’s hospitality industry growth, said TBCSA chairman Thabiso Tlelai. He said the industry revolved around many different types of businesses, such as airlines, boats, bus companies, hotels, car hire, festivals and events, tour guides, retailing and sightseeing destinations.
Tlelai added that much change was still needed and the key was for Africans to be proactive, taking the responsibility to drive that change rather than just waiting for it to happen.
“If we remain separate and fragmented as we are at this stage, it will take a long time before we realise our economic growth, and the idea of bringing the standards of living of our people to acceptable levels will just remain a dream,” he said.