Dear Partners in Tourism,

It has been quite a while since our last newsletter – although we’ve naturally stayed in contact with our key partners.

The post-Covid rollercoaster has certainly continued, and a consistent and predictable trend is not there yet. The trend is without a doubt upwards and positive with some markets showing a spectacular recovery while some are still a bit lackluster and inconsistent. We keep riding the wave and adjust all the time.

We’ve been rebuilding the team and added a number of new people to the core of experienced and longtime team members – as you would have noted. Yvette, Pieter and myself have always kept our finger on the pulse operationally, but probably more than ever over the last 18 months. Considering the growth and dynamics within the industry it will likely be a continued trend in the short term but you should see more of Pieter and myself in your offices in the latter half of the year.

Same as most other countries around the world the South African hospitality industry is still struggling to replace experienced, qualified people and also with the right attitude and aptitude. This is not just the case at hotels and safari lodges but also at other tourism related services such as guides, sightseeing and attractions providers, restaurants and airlines.

One of our biggest challenges has been the airline side – most international routes have been re-established although not all. Our bigger challenge has been the domestic and regional scenario as 2 major players didn’t survive the Covid era and the national carrier is but a shadow of it’s former self. In the last few months things have turned more positive.

A particular challenge was the JNB/VFA and JNB/LVI routes. FlySafair (FA) introduced flights in late 2023 to alleviate the situation. Although flights are not daily to each of the destinations (VFA or LVI) there are daily flights to either airport on FA.

South African Airways (SAA) and Cemair (5Z) have also introduced flights to VFA on certain days. Airlink (4Z) and Fastjet (FN) has serviced the route consistently post-Covid but due to aircraft sizes, additional carriers were needed to solve the capacity issues we experienced until late 2023 on this route.

Fastjet(FN) will be increasing their schedule to daily flights on the VFA/MQP (Kruger Mpumalanga International Airport) route from July 2024 and continues the daily service until September. This greatly assists with connectivity between Victoria Falls and the safari areas around Kruger. Airlink (4Z) also services the VFA/MQP and LVI/MQP routes.

Access to the Kruger area will also increase with the introduction of CPT/MQP flights by FlySafair (FA) from April onwards. Although these flights will only operate on Tuesdays and Saturdays it is welcome additional capacity to the existing flights on Airlink (4Z) on the route (direct CPT/MQP but also via JNB).

Airlink will also re-introduce the MQP/VNX route from July (until early January 2025). The link will make it once again easier to connect the safari lodges around Kruger with the beach resorts in Vilanculos and the Bazaruto Archipelago in Mozambique.

An additional welcome introduction will be the proposed flights between JNB and Mala Mala from June onwards on Cemair (5Z). Most neighbouring safari lodges around Mala Mala and the southern Sabi Sands will be able to collect at Mala Mala airstrip. The Cemair flights will operate on Mondays, Wednesday, Fridays and Saturdays. This is a welcome addition to the JNB/SZK route (operated by 4Z) that also services the safari lodges but sometimes has capacity constraints.

Connecting Namibia to Victoria Falls has always been a challenge. Airlink (through their Namibian joint venture) now services the route (although not daily). Planning an itinerary around that would save a flight via JNB (and often a night in JNB too).

Many properties did some extensive refurbishments during and post COVID. A number of hotels are however planning extensive refurbishments for the rest of 2024 and into 2025.

These have caused some challenging availability scenarios. A couple of key updates:

  • The Cape Grace finally re-opened in February.
  • The Table Bay will likely close in March 2025 for an extensive refurbishment that could last up to 9 months. Details to be confirmed.
  • Southern Sun The Cullinan is currently undergoing refurbishments to rooms (floor by floor and this is not affecting guests). The hotel will however close end of May and be closed for most of June for extensive refurbishments to public areas, swimming pool area, back-of-house and room corridors.
  • The Radisson BLU Waterfront will be undergoing refurbishments from May to August. Although the hotel won’t close a significant portion of the room stock will not be available during this time.
  • The Radisson BLU Safari, close to Hoedspruit has finally opened. It is an interesting addition of a large hotel style accommodation option close to the greater Kruger area

Should you wish for more information on any of the above product or other product that underwent extensive updates and refurbishments recently, please contact myself or one of the team.

Best wishes for the rest of 2024!


Yours in Tourism,

Johan Groenewald