South Africa’s tourism growth increases 10%

Written by Yazeed Kamaldien

President Jacob Zuma was all smiles on his recent visit to Cape Town when he confirmed that foreign tourism increased by 10,2% last year, despite negative reports about South Africa.

Zuma was hosted by government’s SA Tourism, which markets the country globally and annually releases tourism statistics. The president said foreign tourists spent a total R76,4-billion last year and on average stayed in the country for 7,6 nights. A total 9,188,368 international tourists visited South Africa last year. The country’s tourism growth rate is double the global average of 4%.

“This phenomenal tourism growth is evidence that we are successfully setting ourselves apart in a competitive marketplace and that South Africa’s reputation as a friendly, welcoming, inspiring and unique tourism destination continues to grow,” said an upbeat Zuma.

“These figures give us confidence that we are making good progress in our efforts to grow tourism.”

The growth rate for tourists from beyond Africa was up 15,1% from 2011.

Europe remained the highest source of overseas tourists to South Africa. The UK continues to be SA’s biggest overseas tourism market; 438,023 tourists from that country traveled here last year.

The US is the second biggest overseas tourism market with 326,643 visitors in 2012. This was an increase of 13,6% from 2011. Germany was SA’s fourth largest tourism market with 266,333 visitors last year.

Tourists from BRICS nations were also growing, said Zuma. China has become SA’s fourth biggest overseas tourism market: 132,334 tourists visited last year. Indian tourists totaled 106,774 and Brazilians 78,376 last year.

“The BRICS summit held in Durban last month highlighted the economic potential that our affiliation with this bloc has for South Africa and the tourism industry is no exception. Tourist arrivals from BRICS countries accounted for 330,834 of our international tourists,” said Zuma.

He said that African tourists were also steadily visiting South Africa.

“Regional Africa remains the pillar of our tourism economy and we are happy to see that arrivals from the region have maintained a solid growth path we have become accustomed to. Africa’s importance to our tourism industry will continue to grow,” said Zuma.

He added: “But we cannot become complacent. More and more countries around the world are realising the opportunity that tourism presents for growing their economies and creating jobs.

“Our geographic position makes our fight for the global tourism share more difficult than most. As a tourism industry we have to remain committed to growing tourism. South Africans all have the power to be important tourism ambassadors.”

Thulani Nzima, chief executive of SA Tourism, said South Africans needed to promote the country more “instead of being negative about it.”

“The challenge is to get South Africans to be positive about their own country. We are forever so skeptical. We must love our country and ourselves more.”

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About Yazeed Kamaldien

Self-employed journalist and photographer from South Africa.

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