Table Mountain, Kirstenbosch Gardens, world-class wine routes, rich, layered history, and outstanding accommodations flanked by an exquisite coastline are a few draw cards that lend Cape Town the uniqueness responsible for attracting millions of travellers every year and making the multi-billion Rand tourism industry a key contributor to South Africa’s economy.


Over the last two years, hard lockdowns and travel bans put tremendous strain on many sectors, with tourism and hospitality being among the hardest hit. According to Stats SA, the total number of travellers (arrivals and departures) decreased by a staggering 71% between 2019 and 2020. For six months, from April to September 2020, South Africa did not receive any visitors.


Fast-forward to today, and the tourism sector is making an impressive recovery. During Tourism month in September, Tourism Minister Lindiwe Sisulu announced that there had been an increase of over 100% in trips in the first six months of 2022 compared to the same period last year.


We spoke to several members of the Steenberg Hospitality team, including Financial Manager Byron Hunkin, Marketing and International Sales Manager Neilen Tolmay, and Managing Director Catherine Schulze to chat about the 2023 growth projections and how Steenberg Hospitality is harnessing demand and contributing to rebuilding the tourism industry.


Hunkin has his finger firmly on the pulse of all things financial. He indicates that while significant growth has been reported, the industry is not quite back to ‘normal’. The impact of the war in Ukraine is one factor among a host that has added to the global economic instability during the Covid-19 recovery and has prolonged the recuperation period for tourism. However, Hunkin remains positive regarding the industry’s future as air travel increases, and we continue to see regular additions to flights and destinations. “All signs point towards the fact that the world is hungry for travel, and South Africa remains a popular destination for our traditional key European and US markets as well as the Nordic and Benelux markets,” Hunkin comments.


Managing Director Catherine Schulze echoes Hunkin’s optimistic sentiments. “Our industry is always affected by what is going on globally, and one cannot ignore that there is currently significant unsettlement across the world, the ripple effects of which are far-reaching. However, I believe that approaching the future with positivity, while remaining flexible and versatile is the only way forward,” says Schulze.


Fuelled by the aftermath of Covid-19, travelling habits and how we spend money are changing. Projections towards full recovery, and ultimately, success in the hospitality industry will depend on whether businesses can harness demand through strategic and structural adaptation which is pivotal to staying relevant in the industry.


Steenberg Hospitality has invested in expanding its contribution and has taken every possible opportunity to enhance the spaces that guests enjoy. They have changed their representation company in Europe and the UK to have a more focused approach which has yielded greater returns, as well as developed a larger scope of events from conference packages to occasion offerings for their local visitors. Post Covid-19, Steenberg Hospitality also secured the services of a new PR agency which has aided in building more coordinated, strategic media partnerships.


While these adaptations have positively affected their capacity for more visitors, created demand, and improved returns, Schulze says it would be remiss not to acknowledge the power of a well-structured, coordinated, and determined team who have made Steenberg Hospitality recovery possible and which should never be underestimated.


“Like numerous other industries, we battled during a time of significant hardship. Many people had to make considerable sacrifices, but there was light at the end of the tunnel, and we are experiencing that now, thanks to a team of loyal, credible people across all departments who are adept at adapting, enjoy being challenged, and are true custodians of our business and brand,” Schulze concludes, stating that, “Steenberg Hospitality cares about the greater community and providing economic opportunity which is crucial to bringing the industry back in full force for both travellers and hospitality industry workers to enjoy.