South Africa’s tourism statistics: Statistics South Africa (Stats-SA) briefing; Third Term Committee Programme; Committee Budget Vote Report and Draft Tourism Indaba Report

Tourism

19 June 2015
Chairperson: Ms B Ngcobo (ANC)
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Meeting Summary

The Committee considered its Draft Third Term Programme 2015. It was agreed that necessary changes reflecting the inputs made by Members would be incorporated into the Programme that would be adopted at another time. The Committee also considered its Budget Vote Report and also deferred its adoption. Committee Minutes dated 29 April 2015 was adopted without amendment and Committee Minutes dated 12 June 2015 was adopted as amended. The Draft Tourism Indaba Report 2015 was placed before the Committee and Members were encouraged to peruse it in their own time; the Report would be considered and adopted in a later meeting.

Statistics South Africa (Stats SA) briefed the Committee on SA’s tourism statistics. Stats SA had released tourism statistics the previous day and the briefing would cover issues. The Committee was provided with insight into various concepts and definitions. Currently, most of the concepts and definitions used by Stats SA followed the United Nations World Tourism Organisation’s (UNWTO) recommendations. Some of the concepts and definitions touched on were a “traveller” was someone who moved between different geographical locations (e.g. countries) for any purpose and any duration. A “visitor” referred to any person traveling to a place other than that of his/her usual environment for less than 12 months and whose main purpose of the trip was other than the exercise of an activity remunerated from within the place visited. A “same-day” visitor was a person who visited a place for less than one night and an “overnight visitor” (tourist) was a person who stayed at least one night in collective or private accommodation in the place visited. Stats SA collected electronic data from the Department of Home Affairs (DHA) two months after the end of the index month. The data collected provided information on the arrival and departure of all travellers. A very crucial characteristic of the travellers data was that though the counts refer to individual persons, statistically the counts were movements of these individuals in a given reference period. Hence the multiple movements of an individual were counted separately. DHA immigration officers collected daily data at all the air, land and seaports of entry/exit.

The methodology of Stats SA data collection was on a sample basis by doing surveys of nearly 32 000 Dwelling Units (DUs). The most recent survey period was for February 2013 to March 2014.

On the data obtained from the DHA and the Airports Company of SA (ACSA), two main files are created. One was for South African travellers, which contained information on arrivals, departures, ports of entry and modes of travel. The second file was on foreign travellers. It spoke to the purpose of travel, dates of arrival and departure and this in turn was used to derive tourist statistics. The travel data was used to categorise foreign arrivals into non-visitors and visitors. Data on date of arrival and date of departure were used to group visitors into same-day and overnight visitors (tourists). Stats SA also had a national Tourism Satellite Account (TSA) that comprised of ten tables. The TSA was a Statistical instrument used to measure the size of the tourism industry’s contribution to the economy according to international standards. It also allowed for valid comparisons with other industries and eventually from country to country and between groups of countries.  The TSA was based on the general relationship existing between the demand for goods and services generated by tourism on the one hand and the supply on the other hand. Stats SA explained how the TSA was compiled. There was also a regional TSA. The 2 biggest current constraints to the compilation of provincial TSA was in relation to concepts and definitions and data availability at lower level than national. SA Tourism had in the past done surveys on domestic tourism, but the information was not detailed. The Domestic Tourism Survey was introduced in 2009. In 2010, it was agreed that the two surveys should be aligned and integrated so that Stats SA could conduct one survey. A Task Team, comprising of National Department of Tourism (NDT), Stats SA and SA Tourism was established to guide the alignment and integration of the collection of domestic tourism statistics. The Committee was shown a comparison of statistics from Stats SA and SA Tourism and how they differed from each other.

Approximately 9.5m international tourists visited SA in 2014. A total of 54.4m domestic day trips and 50.8m domestic overnight trips took place from January 2013 to December 2013. Figures were provided on tourism’s direct contribution towards the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) of SA for the years 2011 to 2013. Tourism contributed 2.9% of the GDP in 2013. Total tourism direct contribution to the GDP 2013 was R103 557 million. Figures were also provided on tourism’s direct contribution towards employment. Tourism employed approximately 1 in 25 of workers in SA, which was 4.4% of the total workforce. A comparison was also given between tourism and other industries in terms of contributions of value added and employment in 2013. Figures were also provided on tourism expenditure for 2013 as well as on contributions of types of establishments to total income from accommodation in 2014. A graphical representation was provided on income from accommodation and international arrivals from January 2009 up until January 2015. What stood out from the graph was that income from accommodation and international arrivals was high at the time of the 2010 FIFA Soccer World Cup and in January 2014. A dip in income was again seen in January 2015. A comparison of the numbers of tourists in SA by month for the years 2010 to 2014 was also given. Tourist figures were the highest in the months of January and December. Figures were at their lowest in February, May and June. 

Challenges in releasing the Domestic Tourism Survey data on time were new data preparation methodologies and new data weighting.

Challenges regarding the production of tourist statistics were coverage of data received from SITA and DHA, non-availability of records from certain ports or on some dates of the month; or availability of few records for some ports and dates. The coverage issues tend to delay processing and publication due to the fact that Stats SA had to liaise with DHA to sort out the data coverage issues before processing and publishing data. The change in the acquisition of data from the collection of data from SITA to obtaining data from DHA head office in 2013 caused a long period of delay. This shift brought with it other changes such as a different format of datasets and variables that led to changes in the processing of data. Changes in DHA’s own methods of data collection over the years tend to impact on travelers data. A recent case in point was the collection of data on transit passengers. This affected both the processing of data and the presentation of the results starting from January 2014 data. Changes in legislation and practices also had an impact on Stats SA.

Members noted the definitional change in “tourist” that had taken place some years ago and asked what the more recent methodological changes and definitions were and what affect it had on statistics. Members pointed out that the ACSA had data available and asked whether Stats SA had a working relationship with them. On domestic tourism, it was a challenge to obtain reliable statistics from local level. What was Stats SA doing to collect data at local level, especially from small establishments? How could Stats SA support municipalities? Members raised the issue of the possible impact that the new visa regulations could have on foreign arrivals. Stats SA was asked whether the DHA and the NDT had approached them to do a review of arrival figures in view of the visa regulations. The impact of the visa regulations had to be calculated. Concerns were raised that delays in the availability of data often hampered efficiency. Where were the gaps and how could things be improved? Given the delay by DHA in providing Stats SA with data, had Stats SA engaged the DHA over the issue? What was the foundation of Stats SA’s data and why role-players were not feeding into the foundation that had been laid? Stats SA was asked how it obtained information on transit visitors and travellers. Had Stats SA spoken directly to airlines? Concern was raised that there was a perception that the tourism sector took advantage of foreigners as a source of cheap labour, was Stats SA keeping track of the phenomenon? Members appreciated the spike in tourism figures at the time of the 2010 FIFA Soccer World Cup but asked whether Stats SA could measure what the more sustainable increases had been since 2010. In the end was it worth the while for SA to have hosted the 2010 FIFA Soccer World Cup.  

Meeting report

Draft Third Term Programme 2015
The Committee Secretary, Mr Jerry Boltina, took the Committee through the Programme.

Ms S Xego-Sovita (ANC) proposed that the Committee should undertake oversight visits to all the provinces.

Mr G Krumbock (DA) suggested that the Committee should get an economist who was an expert on econometrics to inform the Committee on what criteria should be used to determine what the budgets for tourism should be at both national and provincial level. The Committee needed to be given some pointers. He was aware that it was a grey area.

Ms L Makhubele-Mashele (ANC) was concerned about an oversight visit being planned to the Free State Province in the winter. Members would have to do a great deal of driving, which was dangerous to do in the Free State during winter. She previously had bad experiences in Bethlehem where snow made driving conditions treacherous. She proposed that the Committee visit another province in the winter and reserve a visit to the Free State during the summer months.

Mr A Whitfield (DA) suggested that the Committee undertake an oversight visit to the Eastern Cape as an alternative to the Free State. The Eastern Cape was performing badly on tourism. Both international and domestic arrivals figures were low in the Eastern Cape. Heritage Tourism was also under-developed in the Eastern Cape.

Ms P Adams (ANC) concurred that oversight visits to provinces were necessary. Places that the Committee needed to visit needed to be identified by officials. Tourism month was to be held in September 2015 and the NDT should by now have given the launch location and where the event was to take place.

The Chairperson asked Ms Petra van Niekerk, Parliamentary Liaison Officer: Office of the Director General, NDT, to find out where the tourism month event would be.

Ms van Niekerk responded that the tourism month would take place in Limpopo Province from 1-9 September 2015. The launch would take place in August 2015.

The Chairperson, on the matter of econometrics, asked the Committee Researcher, Ms Joyce Ntuli, to look into the matter. Thereafter the NDT could be consulted.  If the Free State was too cold for members the Eastern Cape could be considered a good alternative.

Ms Makhubele-Mashele agreed with Mr Krumbock’s proposal on econometrics and proposed that not only an economist be invited to the Committee but that a workshop be given on how information was collected. Funding models from overseas should also be looked at.

The Committee agreed that necessary changes reflecting the inputs made by Members would be incorporated into the Programme.

Committee Budget Vote Report
The Chairperson felt that the Committee’s Budget Vote was very good. She suggested that a compilation be made of all inputs made. It would be useful for the legacy report of the Committee. There could even be a legacy booklet.

Ms Makhubele-Mashele supported the Chairperson’s suggestion. The Committee should work on its legacy programme.

Ms Adams also endorsed the suggestion of the Chairperson. The compilation of inputs made could act as a yardstick to check on which inputs made had been accepted by the NDT.

Draft Tourism Indaba Report
The Chairperson suggested that Members peruse the Report in their own time. The Committee would deal with the Report in its meeting the following week.

Ms Makhubele-Mashele questioned the feasibility of having a Committee meeting on Friday 26 June 2015, as members would be sitting in the House till perhaps the early hours of the morning of Friday the 26 June 2015.

The Chairperson agreed that the House sitting could go on until 1am on Friday 26 June 2015. The Committee would look into the matter.
She pointed out that the Committee had received the Stats SA presentation document very late the previous day.

Statistics South Africa (Stats SA)
Stats SA briefed the Committee on SA’s tourism statistics. The delegation comprised of Mr Pali Lehohla, Statistician General, Mr Joe de Beer Deputy Director General: Economic Statistics, and others.

Mr Lehohla briefed the Committee. Stats SA had released tourism statistics the previous day; the briefing would cover issues. Thee Committee was provided with insight into various concepts and definitions. Currently, most of the concepts and definitions used by Stats SA followed the United Nations World Tourism Organisation’s (UNWTO) recommendations. Some of the concepts and definitions touched on were a “traveller” who was someone who moved between different geographical locations (e.g. countries) for any purpose and any duration. A “visitor” referred to any person traveling to a place other than that of his/her usual environment for less than 12 months and whose main purpose of the trip was other than the exercise of an activity remunerated from within the place visited. In addition a “same-day” visitor was a person who visited a place for less than one night and an “overnight visitor” (tourist) was a person who stayed at least one night in collective or private accommodation in the place visited. Stats SA collected electronic data from the DHA two months after the end of the index month. The data collected provided information on the arrival and departure of all travellers. A very crucial characteristic of the travellers data was that though the counts refer to individual persons, statistically the counts were movements of these individuals in a given reference period. Hence the multiple movements of an individual were counted separately. DHA immigration officers collected daily data at all the air, land and seaports of entry/exit.

The methodology of Stats SA data collection was on a sample basis by doing surveys of nearly 32 000 Dwelling Units (DUs). The most recent survey period was for February 2013 to March 2014.
On the data obtained from the DHA and the Airports Company of SA (ACSA), two main files are created. One was for South African travellers, which contained information on arrivals, departures, ports of entry and modes of travel. The second file was on foreign travellers. It spoke to the purpose of travel, dates of arrival and departure and this in turn was used to derive tourist statistics. The purpose of travel was used to categorise foreign arrivals into non-visitors and visitors. Data on date of arrival and date of departure were used to group visitors into same-day and overnight visitors (tourists). Stats SA also had a national Tourism Satellite Account (TSA) that comprised of ten tables. The TSA was a Statistical instrument used to measure the size of the tourism industry’s contribution to the economy according to international standards. It also allowed for valid comparisons with other industries and eventually from country to country and between groups of countries.  The TSA was based on the general relationship existing between the demand for goods and services generated by tourism on the one hand and their supply on the other hand. Members were given insight into how the TSA was compiled. There was also a regional TSA. The two biggest current constraints to the compilation of provincial TSA were in relation to concepts and definitions and data availability at lower level than national. SA Tourism had in the past done surveys on domestic tourism but the information was not detailed. The Domestic Tourism Survey was introduced in 2009. In 2010, it was agreed that the two surveys should be aligned and integrated so that Stats SA could conduct one survey. A task team, comprising of the National Department of Tourism (NDT), Stats SA and SA Tourism was established to guide the alignment and integration of the collection of domestic tourism statistics. The Committee was shown a comparison of statistics from Stats SA and SA Tourism and how they differed from each other.

Approximately 9.5m international tourists visited SA in 2014.A total of 54.4m domestic day trips and 50.8m domestic overnight trips took place from January 2013 to December 2013. Figures were provided on tourism’s direct contribution towards the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) of SA for the years 2011 to 2013. Tourism contributed 2.9% of the GDP in 2013. Total tourism direct contribution to the GDP 2013 was R103 557 million. Figures were also provided on tourism’s direct contribution towards employment. Tourism employed approximately 1 in 25 of workers in SA, which was 4.4% of the total workforce. A comparison was given between tourism and other industries in terms of contributions of value added and employment in 2013. Figures were also provided on tourism expenditure for 2013 as well as on contributions of types of establishments to total income from accommodation in 2014. A graphical representation was provided on income from accommodation and international arrivals from January 2009 up until January 2015. What stood out from the graph was that income from accommodation and international arrivals were high at the time of the 2010 FIFA Soccer World Cup and in January 2014. A dip in income was again seen in January 2015. A comparison of the numbers of tourists in SA by month for the years 2010 to 2014 was also given. Tourist figures were highest in the months of January and December. Figures were at their lowest in February, May and June.
 
Challenges in releasing the Domestic Tourism Survey data on time were new data preparation methodologies and new data weighting.
Challenges regarding the production of tourist statistics were coverage of data received from SITA and the DHA, non-availability of records from certain ports or on some dates of the month; or availability of few records for some ports and dates. Coverage issues tend to delay processing and publication due to the fact that Stats SA had to liaise with the DHA to sort out the data coverage issues before processing and publishing data. The change in the acquisition of data from the collection of data from SITA to obtaining data from DHA head office in 2013 caused a long period of delay. This shift brought with it other changes such as different format of datasets and variables that led to changes in the processing of data. Changes in the DHA’s own methods of data collection over the years tend to impact on travelers was also given data. A recent case in point was the collection of data on transit passengers. This affected both the processing of data and the presentation of the results starting from January 2014 data. Changes in legislation and practices also had an impact on Stats SA.

Discussion
Mr Krumbock referred to the presentation that spoke about tourism’s direct contribution to the GDP of SA for the years 2011 to 2013. He was surprised that that the figure only stood at 2.9% for both 2012 and 2013. The Rand value increase was 12%. He felt that the real contribution was more like 8%. He asked for clarity on the figures provided. The definition of a tourist had changed some years back, what were the more recent methodological changes and definitions, and what affect this had on statistics?

Mr de Beer pointed out that the contribution of the TSA to the GDP of SA was around 3%. Some sectors showed contributions of 8%-10%. There were usually two sets of figures to consider, either direct or indirect contribution to the GDP. The TSA only measured the direct effect on the economy. The figures were in nominal terms and were not deflated. There was a stableness of 9% due to the small size of the tourism sector. Small industries had to outperform bigger industries in order to make a meaningful change. Even though there was a 2.9% contribution if one looked at annual growth rates it would be around 10%. Tourism grew at 5% even though the economy only grew at 1.5%.

Mr Whitfield pointed out that when the Committee had gone on an oversight visit to the ACSA at Cape Town International Airport, ACSA had informed the Committee that it had current data at its disposal. The data appeared to be reliable. He asked whether Statistics SA had a working relationship with ACSA. Domestic tourism took up the bulk of the funding for both the NDT and SA Tourism. It went without saying that reliable statistics were needed. It was a challenge to obtain reliable statistics from local level. What support could Stats SA provide to municipalities? He raised the issue of the possible impact that the new visa regulations might have on foreign arrivals, and asked whether Stats SA worked with ACSA to obtain reliable statistics.

Mr Lehohla, referring to ACSA, said data sets were already generated. He considered data readily available from ACSA as low hanging fruit. Stats SA should take advantage of the availability of the ACSA data.

Mr de Beer said that it was useful to have ACSA figures. In official statistics the use of big data was new. It was used mostly for trends but it was used for the estimation of the Consumer Price Index (CPI).

Ms Makhubele-Mashele said SA Tourism often stated that it could not provide quarterly reports to the Committee because it was waiting on statistics from Stats SA. There seemed to be delays on data expected from the DHA. What were the gaps, and how could efficiency be improved? The DHA should have data readily available. She asked what other methodologies could be put into the system to improve things. Why was there a difference in methodologies on data collection between the Stats SA and SA Tourism?  She asked what models overseas countries were using. Not having data on time was often used as an excuse. Who was causing the delays?

Mr Lehohla said it should have been possible for Stats SA to receive daily data reports from the DHA. Time was required to check if data was real. Electronic equipment such as machine reading passports could be of great assistance. He emphasised that the SITA was hindering Stats SA. Perhaps the bypass that Stats SA had done on the SITA should become a standard practice. The SITA situation created all the delays. Advantage needed to be taken of existing electronic systems. The idea of landing forms needed to be reintroduced when people came into SA. People should be required to fill out the forms. As soon as Stats SA had data it was placed on its website. Stats SA also did media presentations too.

Mr Xego-Sovita asked that the statistics Stats SA had released the previous day be provided to the Committee. She asked whether Stats SA had a definition for a tourist. The Committee depended on the statistics provided by Stats SA. Was there reason to be concerned about the method of DHA in collecting data? She was concerned about the manner in which Stats SA collected data for domestic tourism. One of the ways was to do surveys.  Did Stats SA engage with the DHA to access data?

Mr Lehohla responded that greater coordination was needed. The data from the DHA did give Stats SA a picture of who arrived in and departed from SA. A differentiated strategy was needed. Household surveys collecting data on domestic tourism was very tricky; a system was needed where data could be harvested. Perhaps small establishments like guesthouses could have forms that guests filled in and statistics could be derived from them. It could also be done electronically. Big chain hotels were already collecting such data. Data could furthermore be obtained from operators themselves.

Mr Hlomane Chauke, Chairperson of the Portfolio Committee on Tourism in the North West Provincial Legislature, asked what the foundation of Stats SA’s data was. Which stakeholders feed in on the data that impacted upon policy development? He asked why role-players were not feeding into the foundation that had been laid. Tourism was key to job creation was why having data so important. The 2010 FIFA Soccer World Cup had made a positive impact upon tourism, which had resulted in the built up that was now seen.

Mr Lehohla responded that the foundation of Stats SA was governed by legislation. He emphasised that legislative reform was required. Statistical reform was needed. At present the legislation did not require compliance. The revised legislation had to ensure that there was compliance and consequences for non-compliance. This should be coupled with a process of modernisation.

The Chairperson asked how Stats SA obtained information on transit visitors and travellers etc. She asked why Stats SA did not directly speak to airlines themselves. Did airlines form part of Stats SA’s database? Tourism cut across all spheres of government including municipalities.

Mr de Beer said tourism was a demand side and not a supply side phenomenon. Emphasis needed to be placed on the demand side. There should be a push for tourism indicators. It was important for everyone to make inputs on what the UNWTO Tourism Statistics Manuals should contain.

Ms Xego-Sovita was concerned about the perception that the tourism industry was using foreigners as cheap labour. Was the system able to keep track of the phenomenon?

Mr Lehohla, on the issue of cheap labour, said Stats SA could extrapolate figures on what the levels of pay per sector was. Tourism was considered a tricky sector and the retail sector needed to be looked at.

Mr Whitfield asked whether Stats SA had been approached by the DHA and the NDT to do a review of arrival figures in view of the visa regulations. Perhaps if the measurement was done one could see the impact that the visa regulations had.

Mr Krumbock said the 2010 FIFA Soccer World Cup was an opportunity for SA to rebrand itself to the world. SA had achieved what it intended. Hence there was a huge spike in tourism. During the 2006 World Cup held in Germany the slogan used was “time to make friends”. Germany also achieved what it had intended to achieve. Germany did not only have a spike in tourism but had a sustained increase. Could Stats SA measure what the more sustainable increases had been since 2010? What were the increases currently? Was it worth it in the end to have hosted the 2010 FIFA Soccer World Cup?

Mr Lehohla responded that post the 2010 FIFA Soccer World Cup there had been a dip in tourism figures in SA. There was some recovery in that in 2014/15 there was an increase in numbers. The question that needed answering was why there was a dip between 2014 and 2015. It appeared abnormal and suggested that there were other factors at play.

Mr de Beer said the impact of the 2010 FIFA Soccer World Cup needed to be modelled. It was not within Stats SA’s expertise. The average growth for the economy was 2.3% over the past twenty years. In 2007-2008 growth was 5.3%. It was thus evident that the preparations for the 2010 FIFA Soccer World Cup had helped the growth. In 2008-2009 growth took a dip due to the economic recession.

Mr Lehohla said it was important to determine what the agents of growth of other sectors were.

Mr J Vos (DA) said that SA had seen a decline in domestic tourism figures. There was definitely a need to differentiate between a traveller and a tourist. He asked what Stats SA was doing to collect data at local level. A focus shift was needed to rural areas. How was data collected from municipalities and small towns? On international tourism the impact of the visa regulations had to be calculated. The Tourism Business Council of SA (TBCSA) always projected revenue losses. Correct data was needed to push resources towards domestic tourism. Statistics from local level was needed.

Mr de Beer said that he would forward the questions of Mr Vos on domestic tourism to his colleagues.

Mr Chauke remarked that it seemed as if the foundation was not solid, and suggested the Committee come on board to assist Stats SA.

The Chairperson asked how Stats SA was going to harvest information from small establishments at local level. In reviewing the Stats SA Act could Stats SA compare stakeholders? Further questions that Members had would be forwarded to Stats SA.

Committee Minutes
Committee Minutes dated the 29 April 2015 was adopted without amendment. Committee Minutes dated the 12 June 2015 was adopted as amended.

The meeting was adjourned.

 
 

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