Devastating South African Foreign Tourist Trends 2021 Had No Effect Cape Town Airbnb Occupancy Trends | Cape Town Airbnb Management Agency
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Devastating South African Foreign Tourist Trends 2021 Had No Effect Cape Town Airbnb Occupancy Trends

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Devastating South African Foreign Tourist Trends 2021 Had No Effect Cape Town Airbnb Occupancy Trends


Well, not on ours.

South African Foreign Tourist Trends 2021 did not make for great reading lately.

The Brits and Europeans, specifically Germans, swarm to South Africa and Cape Town when the weather is good. Next in line is the USA. But when the clouds gather the Europeans are the first to duck out. And not the Americans. At least not recently.

Today we will look at the foreign tourist numbers to South Africa and how the decline in foreigners (did not) affected our Cape Town Airbnb occupancy levels during 2021. 

South Africa Tourist Trends 2021 Entering The Hard Lock Down

As the world entered a hard lockdown to prevent Covid-19 from spreading, the number of overseas tourists visiting South Africa dropped by 86% for the duration of 2020. Pre Covid South Africa attracted 2.4 million but for the same period between January and November in 2021 only 330 000 foreigners arrived. 

Further travel restrictions and new Covid-19 strains led to a further 50% drop in overseas tourists the following year (2021).

These South African foreign tourist numbers are serious stuff. 

Let’s look at a few graphs on South African foreign tourists to South Africa. 

South Africa Tourist Trends 2021

See how dominant the UK was in 2020 (Grey – above). The UK being more than 66% when we compare the Big Three (UK, USA, and Germany see below). 

South Africa Tourist Trends 2021 USA Uk Germany

See how dominant the UK (blue) was in 2020

During 2021 the UK was only 25% when compared to the Big Three. And the USA 50%. Nothing changed for the USA in actual numbers, as the numbers stayed the same. But the UK and Germany reduced. 

South Africa Tourist Trends 2021 USA Uk Germany

2021 USA became dominant

Did The Downward South African Foreign Tourist Trends 2021 Impact Cape Town Tourism?

Local news media are telling a story of tourism destruction.

With comments like these:

South Africa’s embattled tourism and hospitality sectors had hoped for a bumper summer season. The outlook was positive in the third quarter of 2021, when Covid-induced travel bans had eased and bookings had flooded in from major international source markets like the United Kingdom, Germany, and the United States. (Ref)

And they continue:

It’s estimated that within 48 hours of Omicron’s discovery, South Africa’s tourism and hospitality sectors lost around R1 billion in cancelled bookings.

We have also read various Airbnb forum discussions where hosts complained about a lack of reservations. Even Uber drivers became expert commentators on tourism. 

And they have an obvious and easy solution…

More Affordable Travel For South Africans! They Shout Out! 

Cape Town’s tourism sector…. was rescued by domestic visitors. Now the discussion around making travel more affordable for South Africans has returned to the fore.

This is a noble idea. And it’s true that locals saved the day. But is it the right thing to make travel more affordable to South Africans? Is it even necessary? It creates another layer of admin; who will check compliance? Are we looking at addressing the cause or the effect? Is this just publicity?

Let me try and answer you below.

What Impact Did The Destruction Of South African Foreign Tourist Trends 2021 Had On (Our) Airbnb Occupancy?

Omicron and Boris J, the privileged kid from the UK, using (preposterous) Red Lists to gain local popularity made no dent in our Airbnb occupancy levels. Yes. Foreigners cancelled but locals rushed to reserve vacant accommodation.

'Secret' 60 Day Super Strict Cancellation Policy
Our Cape Town Airbnb Agency is one of very few that has a “secret” very strict 60 day no refund cancellation policy. (BTW: If you are not aware of it you’ll never find it). 

We had no obligation to refund any guests. But we offered a solution; they could cancel and we would refund them any money we could get if it gets reserved again. Lots got all of the money back or a substantial amount. Demand was high. 

Talking about demand; 2021 Peak was at 94% occupancy (as I mentioned previously). Even today we are getting requests for February we cannot meet. 

And we were quite bold with our pricing strategy. As demand increased the rates obviously increased as well. It has not stopped in the office yet. 

We even thought about increasing the minimum stay from 4 to seven nights next year if demand continues to grow. 

Okay, what does all this mean?

Why Make Our Airbnb’s In Cape Town More Affordable If They Are Fully Booked?

Airbnb occupancy South African Foreign Tourist Trends 2021

It just does not make sense. South Africa is part of a global interlinked system. Just as red lists or borders cannot stop Omicron, lower rates for South Africans will not bring more money. 

Is the answer not just all based on supply and demand? 

During Cape Town’s winter, you can stay at a third of peak summer rates. Why is there no call for better rates for South Africans then? Why only ask for better rates when there are supposed to be foreigners and lots of locals? 


If you offer trusted value, tourists will reward you. Local or foreigner. Set your rates for the demand. Let the foreigners have a ball in South Africa. They get punished back home. It’s all relative. 

Conclusion On The Destruction Of South African Foreign Tourist Trends 2021

Destruction or not; it was an excellent year for (our) Airbnbs. 

Occupancy was high and rates increased. The colour of the money may have become more local but they were willing and able to stay. 

A lack of foreign tourists had no impact on our occupancy rates. I think it’s important to note that while foreigners could not travel easily, locals could only visit (Cape Town) South Africa. 

This year’s festive season may see more foreigners. But when that’s true more South Africans may be spending time abroad. 

It’s all relative. 

We are looking forward to bringing 5 Star 🌟 experiences to our guests that will benefit the immaculate homes of our owners.

Have Fun

Johan Horak

P.S. An Experience Creator at CapeHolidays; we are not trying to be the biggest. Just the best.

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