Tourists flock to South Africa

2008-03-04 00:00

Cape Town — South Africa may be in the throes of an energy crisis and a shaky political climate, but that’s not stopping tourists from flocking to visit.

Foreign arrivals to South Africa totalled a record nine million travellers last year — and South Africa is well on its way to reaching 10 million travellers by 2010, Tourism and Environmental Affairs Minister Marthinus van Schalkwyk said yesterday.

Van Schalkwyk told the National Assembly that 2007 showed an 8,3% increase in foreign arrivals from 2006, when SA received nearly 8,4 million travellers.

"Global growth over the same period was just over six percent, indicating that South Africa continues to outgrow global rates,’’ Van Schalkwyk said.

The Tourism minister said the growth was seen across all air markets. "Arrivals from Europe grew by 2,3% over 2006 and this was largely driven by France, which posted an 8,5% growth. The Netherlands grew 3,5%, while Italy increased by 2,2%.

"Germany was the only country that posted negative growth of 1,4%, which was largely due to market-specific activity,’’ he said.

"Arrivals from the Americas have shown consistently good growth since 2002, and 2007 saw South Africa attract over 22 000 more travellers from the U.S. This translates to an 8,7% increase over 2006. The U.S. is now South Africa’s second-biggest source market.’’

Van Schalkwyk said the Asia and Australasia region had shown excellent growth in 2007.

"Arrivals from China have increased by 12,9% over 2006, showing good and strong growth, which SA Tourism will continue to leverage. India grew 16,9% and Australasia showed a 6,9% growth over 2006. The only market that showed a slight decrease is Japan, which posted a decrease of -0,4% over 2006,’’ he said.

Turning to Africa air markets, he said Africa has shown good growth markets for the year. "Nigeria posted a 12,8% increase over 2006 and Kenya came in with a strong 14,7% increase over 2006. Angola has also shown good growth from a low base — 10,2% over 2006. In SADC, Botswana continued its growth curve with 55 000 more visitors coming to South Africa from Botswana …’’

He said the increase in arrivals reflects on the success of the airlift strategy passed by cabinet in 2006.

"We look forward to an even better 2008, and with the exciting global projects planned by SA Tourism … I am more than confident that South Africa will continue to attract even more travellers … and reach the target of 10 million visitors by 2010,’’ he said.

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