A new report on the hotel and hospitality sector has revealed that African travel and tourism has potential for immense growth after showing a faster post-pandemic recovery than anticipated.

The 2023 Hotel and Hospitality Industry Confidence Index, a collaborative research report between Moore and dmg events, surveyed participants from 17 African countries in the hotel and hospitality market and found that the participants were optimistic about the prospects of the sector.

The report is aimed at understanding the trends, challenges and perceptions facing the industry.

Evan Schiff, portfolio director at dmg events, said the survey paints a picture of a sector that’s largely positive in its outlook, and that’s looking to find fresh routes to traveller engagement and new ways of building traveller experiences.

“Even with the challenges facing the sector, almost 82% of respondents were positive about the next six months, while 90% felt positive about the sector over the next one to two years,” said Schiff.

According to the report, an uptick in activity last year saw Africa achieve the world average in the pace of recovery, with north Africa leading the way on the continent at -29% growth in international tourism.

“This is a big increase over the -73% during the pandemic globally. Sub-Saharan Africa lagged 43% behind its pre-pandemic key performance indicators but the recovery is in motion across Africa and the opportunities for hotel and hospitality operators are vast,” said Schiff.

When it comes to trends to look out for this year, the report highlights that the key trends and challenges from the last year are a good indication of what to expect this year.

Some of the trends that were most prevalent in travel and tourism in 2022 included Environmental, Social and Governance (ESG) considerations, with travellers seeking sustainable tourism, conscious of the energy costs of a vacation.

“Nature-bound getaways or ‘staycations’ were popular to connect people with the environment. Medical tourism saw post-pandemic risk factors shaping how some chose to travel, including in the pursuit of wellness,” said the report.

It also notes that automation and intelligent technology will further shape the industry to deliver on cost cutting while providing exceptional service and some trends in hospitality are here to stay due to Covid.

“Check-ins went digital, restaurant menus were accessed via QR code, and customers are happy, which is encouraging hoteliers to go even further. Many apps that were once a ‘nice to have’, are now fully interactive and engaging pathways to customer engagement and interaction. This is one of the most exciting trends in the industry,” said Schiff.

Also commenting on the report, global sector leader: Hotel and Leisure at Moore Global, Márton Takács, believes that securing appropriately skilled staff in hospitality has proven to be a big challenge.

“This along with the rising costs of energy and reliable supply, construction costs and the impacts of inflationary pressures, which extend to tightening the discretionary income purse strings for travellers, have weighed heavily on the industry,” said Takács.

Covid still presents a dynamic, ongoing risk to the sector and occupancy rates are still generally lower than pre-pandemic, but Takács adds that there is a determination to not only preserve employment, but to keep going and to innovate.

“A substantial 94.3% of respondents made their commitment clear to supporting employees and to retaining talent within the sector,” said Takács. (Credit: www.iol.co.za)

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