Tourism recovering after visa regulations change - Hanekom

2016-05-03 17:37


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Cape Town – This year was promising to be a year of strong growth in tourism in South Africa following efforts to reverse strict visa regulations, Minister Derek Hanekom said on Tuesday.

Presenting his department’s budget vote in Parliament, he said 2015 had not been good for tourism in the country.

"Global and local economic pressures took their toll and perceptions of health risks discouraged travel to Africa. Visa and other travel documentation requirements had a further negative impact on tourism," he said. 

International tourist arrivals declined by 6.8%, compared to the previous year.

The sector was however resilient and recovering rapidly. This year promised to be one of strong growth.

He cited figures from the World Travel and Tourism Council, according to which the sector would get R120bn in export earnings, and contribute more than R380bn to the economy in 2016.

Hanekom said progress had been made in implementing Cabinet’s decisions on changes to the immigration regulations.

The Chinese market was rebounding, with tourist arrivals from that country in January this year nearly double the figure in January 2015. In February, they grew by more than half, compared to the same month in 2015. 

"All indications are that this phenomenal growth is set to continue."

In January, more than one million tourists arrived in South Africa, 15% more than at the same time last year, and February had seen an 18% increase.

Deputy Minister Tokozile Xasa said growth in the sector had been steady. In 1993, the country had 3.4 million international arrivals. In 2015, there were 8.9 million visitors.

Opposition parties made various suggestions to the department, including encouraging municipalities to nurture their tourism potential.

The EFF said too little of the department’s R2bn budget was allocated to building tourism capacity in municipalities.

Hanekom said, while South Africa had something wonderful to offer the world, the country might not be packaging cultural experiences well.

Read more on:    derek hanekom  |  tourism

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