Understanding the role of transportation in the tourism industry
Since the lifting of travel restrictions imposed by the global COVID-19 pandemic, the tourism industry is picking up, with more local and international travel on the cards. Along with the much-needed boost to the tourism industry, some hope increased leisure travel will combat some of South Africa’s record unemployment.
Transportation forms a big part of the tourism industry in South Africa, with many international tourists wanting to travel within the country to visit its various attractions. Studies show that tourists typically spend between 30 and 40% of their holiday budget on transportation. Flights take care of the longer distances if the budget is there, but often tourists opt for organised tours, rental cars, luxury buses, or e-hailing. South Africa is fortunate to have an extensive road network that makes travel by road easy.
Public transport in the form of trains, except the Gautrain, is not generally promoted to tourists, primarily for inflexibility and safety concerns. The few luxury trains, the Rovos Rail, and the Blue Train, are extremely expensive and afforded by few. Hop-on Hop-off tourist sightseeing buses operate in major cities, with reputable companies like Greyhound, Translux, and Intercape providing bus options for longer distances, though tourists covering longer distances prefer to fly due to time constraints. Minibus taxis pick up a small amount of tourist business in cities, for short commuting to tourist attractions.
Aside from the direct transportation of travellers within the country to popular destinations, the role that transport plays in the tourism sector is vital. The movement of people and goods from suppliers to consumers directly influences other branches of the economy. Variety in modes of transport adds colour to the overall tourism experience. As the efficiency and availability of transportation increases, so does the number of tourists.
While the minibus taxi industry remains the domain of commuters, it also plays a vital role in transporting the many people employed in tourism to and from their places of employment.