Tourist arrivals grow

By Drum Digital
17 December 2013

The number of tourists who visited South Africa between January and June was up 5.1 percent.

The number of tourists who visited South Africa between January and June was up 5.1 percent on the same period last year, Tourism Minister Marthinus van Schalkwyk said on Tuesday.

"This was on top of the growth of 10.5 percent recorded last year during the same period," he said in a statement.

"We have thus consolidated the significant gains achieved [between] 2010 [and] 2012 on the back of the Fifa 2010 World Cup."

As a result, the tourist arrival baseline had increased to a record high of 4,642,217 international tourist arrivals in the first two quarters of the year.

The growth was achieved despite increasing global competition, tough trading conditions in some of South Africa's source markets, and a fluctuating rand.

"Tourism arrivals to South Africa continued to grow in 2013, with growth in arrivals recorded from all regions," said Van Schalkwyk.

South Africa's growth was in line with global averages for the period.

According to the World Tourism Organisation, growth in global tourist arrivals was 5.2 percent during the first six months of 2013.

Tourist arrivals from Europe grew by 5.5 percent between January and June to 675,595 arrivals.

"South Africa continued to see good strong growth from Germany, its third biggest source market, with arrivals growing by 13.8 percent in the first six months of 2013," the minister said.

There was also positive growth in arrivals from France (10.8 percent) and Italy (7.1 percent).

However, two of South Africa's traditional source markets, the UK and the Netherlands, were still under pressure, and recorded marginal declines in arrivals of -0.6 percent (UK) and -1.2 percent (Netherlands) over the same period.

Arrivals from North America grew by 3.7 percent in 2013, with a total of 194,586 tourist arrivals in the first six months of 2013.

Van Schalkwyk said that for South Africa to compete as a destination in the current global economic environment, it had to work harder than ever to be seen as a destination which offered the best value for money.

"Working with our private sector partners, we are focused on nurturing this value proposition," he said.

Asian tourist arrivals increased by 12.7 percent to 210,776 in the first six months of 2013, compared to 186,981 in the same period in 2012.

Arrivals from China grew by 23.9 percent, and India by 11 percent over the period.

African arrivals grew by 4.8 percent, with travel by land visitors increasing by 4.4 percent and those travelling by air by 11.4 percent between January and June.

"There was strong growth especially from West African air markets, albeit from lower baselines -- Ghana (27.3 percent) and Nigeria (15.9 percent)," the minister said.

"We remain confident in the growth in tourism arrivals from Africa, particularly from our air markets in West and East Africa. We are therefore proud to open a South African Tourism office in Lagos on January 28, 2014."

Van Schalkwyk said tourism injected R35.3 billion into the economy between January and June this year.

"Compared to other economic sectors, this is more than, for example, the R32.6bn that gold exports contributed during the same period," he said.

-by Sapa

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