Figures released by the Tourism Business Index recently suggest that business in the travel and tourism sector is operating under heavy strain in the second quarter of 2011. Due in large part to a strong rand, rising oil prices having a direct effect on flight cost and the financial crisis which globally affected the demographic most likely to be taking overseas holidays. Domestic travel is also down, with the public holidays and long weekends associated with Easter not delivering the results that were expected. There are many in the tourism and travel industry that are worried that this may signify worse yet to come. However some are quick to forget that last year South Africa hosted the largest sporting event in the world and tourism figures will no doubt have dropped from what they were.
The drop in figures is not all bad news for those specialising in the tourism and travel sector, if anything it from challenges such as these that innovation is born and industries are bettered. South African business has in the past exhibited massive ingenuity and resilience in the face of much more serious problems. This slump shows those in the business that they need to diversify and that a time may fast be approaching when South Africa and Cape Towncan no longer rely on its’ traditional images and selling points. Travellers are expecting more, these days, than just safari tours and sunny beaches. In today’s environmentally conscious world tourists want to know that their leisure time is having as small a carbon footprint as possible, obviously the flight is all but unavoidable therefore they need to be reassured once on the ground that they are enjoying a guilt free holiday.
Sustainable tourism is of course only one solution, there are plenty of ways to attract a new type of tourist, to reinvent South Africa and Cape Town’s image as a fresh destination. Helicopter charter travel is a great way to attract the more adventurous travellers with foreign currency. The layout of Cape Town in particular lends itself to this type of sightseeing, with its’ beautiful architecture and magnificent mountains and beaches a half hour helicopter flip is the ideal sightseeing option. Although this type of attraction in not new, there have been several helicopter charter companies operating out of the waterfront for some time now, perhaps now is the time to start advertising more heavily on resources such as these to turn South Africa into an adventure destination. People with stronger foreign currency can part take in activities which may be prohibitively expensive in their home country, such as charter helicopter tours.
Although this might not seem congruent with the whole ideal of sustainable and ecologically friendly tourism it is in fact far less harmful and has less environmental impact than a bus full of tourists visiting an area of natural beauty and leaving behind masses of litter as well as disturbing and often feeding the wildlife. If there truly is going to be a slump in the world tourism market then it is vital that we start to explore new avenues for marketing the country.