Accommodation & Food Services Industry Grow By 26.6%

By Ntokozo Nkambule

The local tourism sector appears to be recovering from the COVID-19 pandemic which almost decimated the industry.

The Central Bank of Eswatini (CBE) in its Recent Economic Development Report for February- March 2023 notes that following the full resumption of tourism activities post-Covid in both the domestic and international economy, the ‘accommodation & food service’ subsector grew by 26.6 percent.

According to the CBE report the accommodation and food services industry is one of the best-performing sectors in the period under review.

“Sectors that recorded positive performance include, ‘transport & storage’, ‘accommodation & food service activities’ and ‘professional, scientific, & technical services in the quarter under review.”

The report adds that the ‘transport & storage’ subsector grew by 5.9 percent in the fourth quarter of 2022 from 4.3 percent in the previous quarter. In the same line, activity from the ‘professional services’ subsector grew by a significant 29.8 percent in the last quarter of 2022, compared to 14.8 percent in the third quarter of 2022.

The Ministry of Economic Planning and Development concurs with the report judging by their Medium Term Forecasts published earlier this year.

“On the other hand, the ‘tourism sector’ was also revised upwards as observed data from this sector suggested that tourism and tourism-related activities were recovering at a faster pace than initially forecasted. Other subsectors that were revised upwards included ‘Professional, administrative and support services’ and ‘Other service activities,” notes the Ministry in its Medium Term Forecast for 2023.

Overall, the services sector grew by a slower 5.0 percent in the fourth quarter of 2022 from a 12.8 percent growth in the previous quarter.

Furthermore, the CBE report reveals that the primary sector grew by 11%, year on year, with positive performance mainly noted in the ‘animal production’ and ‘crop production’ subsectors.

The ‘animal production’ subsector grew by 8.3 percent in the quarter under review from 3.4 percent in the previous quarter, benefitting from a 35.3 percent increase in pig slaughters during the last quarter of 2022.

“Crop production rose by 8.3 percent in the fourth quarter of 2022 year-on-year, largely benefitting from sugarcane production as harvesting season was extended to cover for lost production that was induced by disruptions that occurred in the sugar industry,” states the CBE report.

On the contrary, the ‘mining & quarrying’ subsector contracted by 13.8 percent in the fourth quarter of 2022, resulting from subdued production of coal and quarried stone.

Mining stoppages due to heavy rains, flooding of access roads, and power outages resulted in decreased coal production, particularly in December 2022.

Similarly, a slowdown in the implementation of construction projects also resulted in low demand for quarried stone production during the period under review.

The secondary sector on the other hand economic activity rebounded from a revised decline of 2.0 percent in the third quarter of 2022 to year-on-year growth of 0.1 percent in the fourth quarter of 2022.

Improvements were noted in the ‘electricity supply’, ‘water & sewerage’, and ‘construction’ subsectors.

“The ‘electricity supply’ subsector grew by a significant 18.8 percent, year-on-year, in the fourth quarter of 2022, from 6.7 percent in the previous quarter. All categories increased during the quarter under review, particularly ‘commercial’ and ‘irrigation power & bulk.”

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