Has South African tourism recovered? The latest figures from NightsBridge, South Africa’s leading property management solution, offer a decisive answer to this burning question. With compelling evidence and a clear upward trajectory, the data shows a strong resurgence of the tourism industry.

The tourism industry in South Africa has shown not only signs of recovery but also of significant growth since the pre-pandemic period. Data compiled by NightsBridge reveals a clear upward trend, with total bookings from January to October 2023 exceeding those from the same period in 2019 by 7.4%. This increase indicates that the industry has not only rebounded from the impacts of the pandemic but is also experiencing expansion beyond pre-pandemic levels.

Analysis of consistent data from 4,122 NightsBridge clients since January 2019 illustrates a 9.4% year-over-year increase in bookings from 2022 to 2023. Online bookings, in particular, have come into the spotlight with a 17.3% rise compared to pre-pandemic figures.

The rise in online bookings suggests that consumer behaviour has shifted more towards digital solutions, a trend likely accelerated by the pandemic but sustained by the convenience and efficiency of online platforms. The increase in offline bookings, though more modest at 1.6%, complements the overall growth, indicating that traditional booking methods still hold relevance and have also recovered.

Theresa Emerick, co-founder and Managing Director of NightsBridge, observes: “What we’re seeing is not just a rebound, but a meaningful advancement. The growth in online bookings is a reflection of evolving traveller behaviours and preferences, as well as the travel industry’s continued adoption of digital solutions as a time-saving administrative convenience.”

With 2024 on the horizon, the data hints at a continued upward trajectory for the tourism industry. The current landscape suggests that the digital integration within the sector will only deepen, positioning businesses that have pivoted online for further growth and success.

Accommodation providers are encouraged to align with this digital movement to keep pace with the industry’s trajectory. Meanwhile, travellers can look forward to a more streamlined and secure way to satisfy their wanderlust.