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South Africa goes from all-time performance best to COVID-19 declines

The COVID-19 pandemic has caused unprecedented challenges for global hospitality, with travel restrictions and lockdown measures forcing hotel closures and performance declines that exceed the levels witnessed during the global financial crisis and other challenging times for the industry. South Africa has been no exception.

To demonstrate the severity of performance declines in the country, we provide the complete-picture look below at South Africa’s success prior to the global pandemic as well as the severe drop in recent months.

South Africa long-term RevPAR growth

Following a long-term run of RevPAR growth, South Africa had posted a positive start to 2020. In February, the market posted its highest RevPAR level (+5.2% to ZAR988.77) for any month on record in the country, thanks in part to music festivals such as Ultra South Africa (28-29 February 2020), which welcomed more than 51,000 attendees for its 2020 edition.

The trend quickly shifted, however, as the market reported a 77.7% RevPAR decline in April and a 78.2% decrease in May due to the COVID-19 pandemic, travel restrictions and lockdown measures.

South Africa long-term RevPAR growth
Just as a note with the chart above, you will notice a significant spike in June 2010. As you will recall, the country hosted the 2010 FIFA World Cup (11 June through 11 July 2010) and posted its second-highest RevPAR level (+98% to ZAR969.10) on record that June. 

Demand growth had been common in almost all South African markets

Since 2015, almost all key South African markets had seen growth in demand except for Johannesburg.

In 2016 for instance, Cape Town posted 7.1% demand growth followed by Durban with a 2.6% increase in the metric. Johannesburg, however, posted a 3.3% demand decline.

During 2019, Johannesburg was once again the only market to post demand declines (-6.9%), while Cape Town (+5.1%), Durban (+2.1%) and Pretoria (+0.7%) saw demand growth.

Demand growing almost everywhere in 2019

Cape Town: difficult 2020

After a fairly consistent run of occupancy growth since the beginning of the year, Cape Town began reporting dramatic declines in the metric starting 28 February. The market posted its highest occupancy growth on 7 January 2020 (+28.9%).

Cape Town occupancy

What is next and how you can find out? Help us launch Forward STAR in South Africa!

With your help and participation, STR can launch Forward STAR in South Africa. Business-on-the-books intelligence will not only help us all understand when recovery begins, and provide much-needed context, those insights can be accessed for free when you submit your data. If you are interested, please email


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