Cape Town - Tourist arrivals for the first five months of 2016 show a healthy 15.7% increase from the same period last year - more than three times the average annual global growth rates experienced in international tourism.
Non-traditional markets, especially, are doing well. Tourism Minister Derek Hanekom says "source markets like India and China are moving up the rankings as source markets for South Africa. The spectacular growth in tourist numbers from China continues, with a 50% year-on-year increase."
Indian tourist numbers, at 14 237, also showed a 37% increase from May last year. India has also taken up the rank as the third biggest overseas source market to South Africa in May.
This is according to the latest data from Statistics SA, showing that the total tourist arrivals for January to May 2016 was over 4.2 million.
"Amongst our traditional overseas markets," Hanekom says, "the US has grown impressively at 18% this year, while Germany is a top performer with 21% growth. The UK, our leading overseas market, has grown at a solid 13.7%."
The increase is welcomed after overall tourism figures for 2015 in SA dropped by 6.8%, mainly due to the implementation of new visa regulations for minors in June 2015.
The visa regulations were revised in October 2015, contributing to an exceptionally strong rebound in tourist arrivals to SA in the first quarter of 2016 - an estimated 18.7% growth in arrivals.
This growth, Hanekom says, is not only having a positive effect on tourism, “It will have a multiplier effect on the many industries that support tourism, so it’s good news for the wider economy as well."
“Continued investment in creative and effective joint marketing, infrastructure, tourism experiences and human resources will allow the destination to both capitalise and continue with this trend,” Hanekom says.
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