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17 December 2013

Tourist arrivals to South Africa continue to grow

Tourist arrivals to South Africa grew by 5.1% during the first six months of 2013 compared with the same period in 2012.

Marthinus van Schalkwyk Tourism Minister Marthinus van Schalkwyk

For us to compete as a destination in the current economic environment, where many travellers in our traditional core markets are choosing to travel for shorter periods of time and closer to home, we need to work harder than ever to be seen as a destination that offers brilliant value for money. Working with our private-sector partners, we are focused on nurturing this value proposition. – Tourism Minister Marthinus van Schalkwyk

This was on top of the 10.5% growth in tourist arrivals recorded in the first six months of 2012.

Commenting on the 2013 January-to-June tourist arrivals statistics, Tourism Minister Marthinus van Schalkwyk said South Africa has consolidated the significant gains achieved in the 2010 to 2012 period on the back of the 2010 FIFA World Cup™, further increasing the baseline to reach a historic high of 4 642 217 international tourist arrivals for the first half of 2013.

‘Over a four-year period, we have averaged 9.4% compound annual growth for the first half of the year, despite ever-increasing global competition, tough trading conditions in some of our source markets and the fluctuating rand,’ he said.

In the first half of 2013, tourist arrivals growth was recorded in all regions.

‘Our growth is in line with the global averages for the period. According to the UNWTO, growth in global tourist arrivals was 5.2% during the first six months of 2013,’ he said.

Tourist arrivals from Europe (including the United Kingdom) grew by 5.5% during the first six months of 2013 to 675 595 arrivals, up from 640 231 arrivals in the same period last year.

South Africa continued to see strong growth from Germany, its third-biggest source market, with arrivals growing by 13.8% in the first six months of 2013. Arrivals from France grew by 10.8% and from Italy by 7.1%.

However, the UK and the Netherlands – two of South Africa’s traditional source markets – remain under pressure and recorded marginal declines in arrivals. UK arrivals were down by 0.6% and the Netherlands by 1.2% when compared with the same period in 2012.

Arrivals from North America grew by 3.7% in the first half of 2013, with a total of 194 586 recorded arrivals compared with 187 703 in 2012.

Good growth continued from Asia, with tourist arrivals increasing by 12.7% to 210 776 arrivals compared with 186 981 tourist arrivals during the first half of 2012. Arrivals from China (including Hong Kong) grew by 23.9% and from India by 11% during the period.

‘For us to compete as a destination in the current economic environment, where many travellers in our traditional core markets are choosing to travel for shorter periods of time and closer to home, we need to work harder than ever to be seen as a destination that offers brilliant value for money. Working with our private-sector partners, we are focused on nurturing this value proposition,’ said Van Schalkwyk.

Arrivals from Africa grew by 4.8% in the first half of 2013, with African land markets growing by 4.4% and African air markets by 11.4%. There was strong growth out of West Africa, albeit off a lower base, with Ghana arrivals growing by 27.3% and Nigeria arrivals growing by 15.9%.

Van Schalkwyk said the National Department of Tourism remains confident in the growth of tourist arrivals from Africa, particularly from the West and East African markets.

‘We are therefore proud to open a South African Tourism office in Lagos on 28 January 2014. We look forward to being part of the larger Nigerian travel community. Having a marketing home in this critical West African region will do much to bolster the relationships we have with both trade and consumers, and unlock the full potential of tourism,’ he said

Tourism’s contribution to the South African economy remains a key driver of growth and employment. Tourism injected R35.3-billion into the economy from January to June 2013.