Regional travellers top November tourism figures

A total of 3.5 million people passed through the borders of South Africa in November, and most of the tourists were from African countries, according to figures released on Tuesday by Statistics South Africa.

A comparison between November 2018 and November 2019 also indicated that the number of arrivals and departures increased for South African residents, while foreign travellers decreased.

The data is collected by the Department of Home Affairs immigration at the country's ports of entry and exit. It does not include the purpose of travel and the number of days South African residents intend to spend abroad, the agency said.

It showed that the volume of South African residents arrivals increased by 1.9%, from 436 946 in November 2018 to 445 039 in November 2019.

Departures increased by 2.0%, from 455 068 in November 2018 to 464 103 in November 2019.

Given that the majority of visitors were from Southern African Development Community (SADC) states, most of them arrived by road transport, mainly from Zimbabwe, Lesotho and Mozambique.

India and Brazil, which - along with China, South Africa and Russia, make up the BRICS economic bloc - accounted for the lowest number of visitors. India added 7 249 visitors and Brazil only 6 495.

Tourism is one of the key drivers of economic activity, and President Cyril Ramaphosa has set a plan to double international tourist arrivals from 10.5 million to 21 million by 2030. India has been identified as one of the countries that could stimulate the country's tourism arrivals.

Social challenges, such as South Africa's high crime rate and unstable electricity supply, have previously been identified as some of the key factors affecting the growth of the industry.

Government recently reversed the controversial requirement for an unabridged birth certificate for foreign minors travelling with foreigners to South Africa. The regulation was blamed for a slowdown in tourist numbers, as travellers battled to meet the demand.

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