South Africans are squeezed for cash, so a cheaper option for a holiday has turned into a major industry
Timeshare property ownership is emerging as a popular way for people to afford vacations without having to purchase their own holiday homes. In tough economic times, luxuries like holidays are often cut, and buying a second home to use as a vacation home is not a priority in a slow property market.
While this Easter weekend will see many South Africans travelling throughout their provinces and the country, not all holiday homes and establishments will be full.
Stats SA’s latest tourism accommodation report shows that for the three months ending January 2019, income from accommodation decreased by 0.5% compared with the three months ending January 2018. Income for guest houses and guest farms suffered the biggest drop at 20.8%, the figures show.
While not without challenges, the timeshare industry allows people to enjoy quality and luxury vacations at “a fraction of the cost”, says the Vacation Ownership Association of Southern Africa (Voasa). This is particularly prevalent in the current tough economic climate, says Voasa chief operating officer Alex Bosch.
“The 1970s rise in inflation propelled the growth of timeshare in South Africa as a more affordable way to vacation, and it still makes perfect sense.” Bosch says as a R3.5 billion per annum industry, timeshare has a “significant” footprint in the tourism and hospitality sectors of South Africa.
“Furthermore, its knock-on effect has a positive impact on the economy by contributing billions of rand to the GDP and generating employment for around 27 000 people, ranging from highly skilled to informal positions.”
Voasa figures indicate that traditional beach, berg and bush holiday destinations remain the most popular. Due to the favourable climate, particularly on the east coast, timeshare beach properties are running at year-round occupancies in the 90% range, with bush and berg occupancies close behind. However, the association has noted a change in the travel patterns of timeshare owners.
“There is a notable decrease in the number of annual week-long vacations with a preference for taking more frequent, shorter vacations. The dip in the economy has also led to a preference for destinations closer to home.” Settling into 2019, timeshare sales “remain positive”, partly attributed to steady growth in the timeshare rental market.
Stats SA’s report states that total income for the tourist accommodation industry decreased by 3.7% in January 2019 compared with January 2018, while income from accommodation decreased by 3.7% year-on-year in January 2019. This was a result of a 2.4% decrease in the number of stay unit nights sold and a 1.4% decrease in the average income per stay unit night sold.
Cape Town has been selected as one of 15 top global destinations to be chosen as ideal subjects for a case study by the United Nations World Tourism Organisation (UNWTO) and the World Tourism Cities Federation (WTCF).
This accolade, says Enver Duminy, chief executive of Cape Town Tourism, demonstrates the city’s global status and potential to influence world travel according to its popularity and practices in operating under sustainable tourism conditions.
Duminy says Cape Town, which contributes about 11% to South Africa’s GDP, has a bustling tourism sector. In addition to having the third-busiest airport in Africa, it offers almost 4 000 tourism enterprises, including 2 742 different types of guest accommodation.
Duminy says the most recent comprehensive study on the tourism economy carried out by Grant Thornton (2015) pegged tourism as bringing in an estimated R15 billion for the Mother City, showcasing the industry as a major contributor to Cape Town’s economy.
“Cape Town tourism also contributes about 10% to the Western Cape’s GDP, through its unparalleled big attractions.” He says Cape Town has been voted best host city in the world for events and festivals.