Travel and tourism in South Africa is booming, with the country recording an increase of 10.5% in the number of arrivals during the first six months of 2012, compared to the same period last year.
A total of 4 416 373 visitors arrived in South Africa between January and June this year.
This figure represents an increase of 419 613 more visitors than the 3 996 760 tourists who stepped onto South Africa’s shores in the same period last year, Tourism Minister Marthinus van Schalkwyk said in his address to the Cape Town Press Club on Thursday.
“This local growth figure is double the global growth figure recorded for the same period.”
Global tourism outlook optimistic
“With regard to overseas markets, tourist arrivals registered a staggering growth of 17.1 percent during the same period under review,” Van Schalkwyk said.
China has overtaken France and the Netherlands as South Africa’s fourth biggest sources of visitors, while the United Kingdom remains unsurpassed as the biggest traditional market for South Africa.
“This was a growth from 993 364 during the first six months of 2011, to 1 163 4777 during the same period in 2012.”
Globally the outlook for tourism and travel was also fairly optimistic, with the United Nation’s World Tourism Organisation indicating an increase of 5% in the number of international tourists worldwide.
“This was an increase from 445-million in 2011 to 467-million in 2012. It is estimated that by the end of 2012, total global tourists will surpass 1-billion, recording a growth of between 3 and 4%,” he said.
However it was anticipated that there might be a slowdown in the last six months of this year.
Van Schalkwyk said the World Travel and Tourism Council believed tourism and travel in South Africa directly employed more people in the country than mining, communication services, automotive and chemical manufacturing.
“Tourism’s direct and indirect contribution to employment was estimated at 1.2- million jobs in South Africa in 2012,” he said.
He said that Africa was the main sources of tourists for South Africa. “Arrivals from the continent from January to June 2012 recorded a growth of 8.3 percent. The growth experience from the continent confirms the importance of this market for long-term sustainability of the South African tourism industry which is a global trend.”
Next year’s African Cup of Nations (Afcon) tournament, to be hosted by South Africa, also presented “an opportunity to further position South Africa’s destination brand in the continent”.
“In this regard South African Tourism will run an extensive marketing campaign in the qualifying participating countries,” Van Schalkwyk said.
Visitor numbers from other BRICS countries were also up. Brazil and China showed a growth of 68.3% and 21.2% respectively.