Love of SA outdoor stays sees solid growth for camping and caravan sector


Cape Town - South Africans love being outdoors and as a destination with unique national parks and wildlife offerings this makes complete sense. 

Supporting the notion even further that locals and visitors to the country love nothing more than feeling a breeze on their faces and the some sun on their backs while taking a break is StatsSA's first quarter tourist accommodation report for 2016.

Tourist accommodation industry income growth shows an increase by 11,9% in March 201 when compared with March 2015 while income from accommodation increased by 13,7% year-on-year in March 2016.

This was as a result of a 4,0% increase in the number of stay unit nights sold and a 9,4% increase in the average income per stay unit night sold, according to StatsSA. 

In March 2016, caravan parks and camping sites recorded the highest year-on-year growth in income at 31,4%, followed by the Other category which includes lodges, bed-and-breakfast establishments, self-catering establishments and establishments not elsewhere classified which showed an 18,7% growth rate.

Guest-houses and guest farms also proved to be quite popular at 15,2%.

StatsSA confirmed the main contributors to the 13,7% year-on-year increase in income from accommodation in March 2016 were from Hotels stays, contributing 7,4% and despite also being the category which showed the least amount of growth at 11.3 in March 2016 when compared with March 2015.

With the rise of sharing economy providers, the increasing influence of online travel agents in the booking process, and the rapidly evolving needs and expectations of guests - it is easy to understand how the likes of Airbnb can be showing marked popularity amidst the more traditional accommodation offerings. 

Added to this outdoor camping and caravan stays are more than likely more affordable, considering the current economic climates locals face due to the rand value - these types of holiday styles lend themselves really while to an escape suited to individual tastes and experiences. 

It is interesting to note that a current Grant Thornton study that suggests that South African hotels have yet to grasp the power of the modern digital economy as travellers, and in particular business travellers, expect convenient mobile services and options.

SEE: SA hotels risk being cut adrift in new digital economy - survey

This is according to Gillian Saunders, Head of Advisory Services at Grant Thornton South Africa, who says a survey done by her team via the various online application stores including Google Play and Apple Store brought up "only one app from a South African hotel chain", highlighting an urgent need for hotel and tourism companies to leverage cutting-edge technology, in order to personalise the customer experience. 

The power of personal: Hotels' roadmap to 2020 report suggests that hotels will have to invest in better data management skills and technology, and leverage the information to deliver a personalised experiences better. Saunders warns that as they do this great consideration will need to be given towards balancing data harvesting and respecting customer privacy.  

“The most innovative hotels are already responding to these challenges. Brands slowest to react to the demand for greater innovation will increasingly find themselves cut adrift. In addition to personalisation, the industry will be forced to consider new business models or respond to those disruptors entering their space with new business models.'

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