24 October 2016

SA's tourism increasing in 2016

Domestic and International Tourism has seen an increase in South Africa in the first half of 2016. This is positive and encouraging information which generates an optimistic sense for the 2016/2017 summer season for the entire Tourism Sector.

The information regarding the increase in numbers can be found below.

International vs Domestic Travel


  • 5 million foreign tourist arrivals (15.4 % increase)
  • R39.3 billion in total foreign direct spend (24.8% increase)
  • 9.6 nights average length of stay (6.5% increase)
  • 45.9 million bednights (22.1% increase)


  • 12.7 million domestic tourist trips (23% increase)
  • R15.3 billion total direct domestic spend (67% increase)
  • 3.6 nights average length of stay (2% decrease)
  • 45.8 million bednights (20% increase)

International arrivals

International arrivals have continued to grow during the first half of 2016. Asia's continued growth has seen the region close the gap on North America and is now the third biggest region in terms of tourism growth. Should this region continue to lead growth figures in 2016 it will become our second biggest region. The percentages are as follows: Asia and Australasia (31.3%), followed by the Americas (17.5%), Africa-land (14.9%), Europe (14.7%), and Africa-air markets (9.9%).  Arrivals from Africa-air markets and the Americas have not yet fully recovered and are still below the 2014 levels. The main drivers of the increased foreign volume were tourists visiting for business and for other purposes such as medical, religious and other.

International arrivals and their spend

A positive increase has been noted in revenue generated from international tourists. The estimated total tourist foreign direct spend has increased by 25.8% between Jan – June 2015 and Jan – June 2016 to R39 billion. Increases were recorded from all regions with Europe showing the highest growth. This increase in spend is directly influenced by an increase in length of stay to 9.6 nights, a 7% increase.

Visited provinces by international travellers              

The provincial spread in South Africa has improved from an international perspective with the number of arrivals increasing in 7 of the 9 provinces in the first half of 2016 (Northern Cape and KwaZulu - Natal being the only provinces that did not see an increase).

Domestic travel

Gauteng was the most visited province this year and grew to surpass the 2 million tourist arrivals with a total of 17.6 million bednights generating an estimated R17.9 billion in revenue. Western Cape is the 2nd most visited province with 0.7 million tourist arrivals generating 8.2 million bednights. Similarly, the same held true in terms of spend which grew for all provinces with the exception of Free State. Collectively, 12.7 million domestic trips took place in the first 6 months of 2016, which shows a 23% increase from 2015.


The number of nights in paid accommodation increased by 3.2% to a total of 12.9 million. This means that the number of sold units has slightly increased. Guest houses and B&B’s experienced declines in number of bednights as fewer foreign tourists utilised these form of establishments in this year. Self-catering bednights grew driven by an increase in length of stay.

General information - Positive travelling trends

The tourism economic sector has benefited significantly from these positive trends. Revenue spent, with shopping being the largest spend category, increased to R11 billion and food, being the second, increased to R6 billion.

Month-on-month arrivals in 2016 recovered losses of 2015 and are higher than previous years to reach record highs from each month with the exception of April. That can be attributed to the shift in Easter weekend.

forward bookings and projections are looking positive for South Africa and if this trend remains the same we can expect more tourist arrivals for the remaining months of 2016.

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