Europe continues to be the country’s largest source of tourists / visitors. The pandemic hit various sectors of the economy hard. Yet, slowly in recent years, each of them has been recovering, such as the tourism sector. Fortunately, in South Africa, this industry has been showing positive numbers, and in the first half of 2023, the arrival of four million tourists was recorded, according to data reported by Statistics South Africa.
This number demonstrates a significant increase, especially when compared to the same period in 2022 when 2.3 million people visited the country, indicating an increase of 78.2%.
At this respect, the Minister of Tourism, Patricia De Lille, highlighted at the National Tourism Security Forum in Cape Town that the increase in visits occurred in all regions. However, she pointed out that, despite the signs of recovery, they have only reached 80% of pre-pandemic capacity.
In the first six months of this year, 3,083,583 tourists came from other African countries
That’s a 79.9% increase compared to the same period the previous year when 1,714,501 visitors from this region were received. Additionally, air arrivals in Africa saw a growth of 44.5%.
“We are pleased with the number of visitors our country continues to receive from the rest of the African continent. This reflects the marketing efforts we have implemented to attract tourists from this region.” said the minister, who affirmed their commitment to collaborating as a tourism sector to provide the best welcome to visitors from the region and to meet their needs and preferences.
Regarding the arrival of people from other regions, Australasia (mainly comprising Australia and New Zealand) also experienced a 141% increase (50,882 tourists) in the first half, compared to 21,108 arrivals the previous year. Meanwhile, the Asian region nearly doubled its numbers, with a growth of 99.5%, rising from 47,912 in 2022 to 95,596 visitors this year.
Europe remains the largest source of visitors to South Africa outside of Africa, with a 66.81% growth between January and June of this year, specifically 594,388 visitors came to the country, while in 2022 there were 356,352.
As for North America, Central and South America, and the Middle East, they all continued to grow, with growth rates of 70.6%, 74.4%, and 75.8%, respectively.
According to Minister De Lille, all of this reflects the work that the nation has been doing to showcase the charm and appeal it has to offer and to position South Africa as a chosen destination. “We are eager to welcome more tourists as we approach the busy summer season.” she added.
On the other hand, Zara Nicholson, spokesperson for the Ministry of Tourism, pointed out that these latest StatsSA statistics “are evidence that the implementation of the Tourism Sector Recovery Plan has gained momentum and is contributing to sustained and accelerated economic growth.”
Furthermore, she stated that the goal is to surpass the visit numbers from before Covid-19. In this regard, she highlighted not only the support of international travelers but also domestic travelers, who have played a crucial role in revitalizing South Africa’s economy and restoring the tourism sector.
The report also delves into the purpose of tourists’ visits, with the vacation category being the most prominent. This category includes reasons such as visiting friends and family, shopping, and other personal motives.
In this context, StatsSA reported that discussions are underway to further categorize and separate vacation and shopping, for example. This way, it could be clearer what motivates visitors and why they choose South Africa as their destination, allowing for better attention to and improvement of their needs and preferences.
It’s worth noting that the organization recently presented the Tourism and Migration statistics for July. In this month, a total of 2,551,329 travelers – including arrivals, departures, and transits – passed through South Africa’s entry and exit ports. Of this total, 764,558 people were South African residents, and 1,786,771 were foreigners.
“Foreign tourists represented 23.3% (161,376) of the total tourists. The United States (31,612), the United Kingdom (25,192), and the Netherlands (14,338) contributed 44.1% to foreign tourists. Tourists from the Southern African Development Community (SADC) represented 75.1% (519,422) of all tourists.” notes part of the report.
Perception of South Africa abroad
This year, South Africa was honored by the UK’s Telegraph Travel Awards 2023 with the title of “Best Country,” and in addition, Cape Town was chosen as the “Best City in the World.”
These awards are the result of the votes of 27,000 passionate readers who highlighted South Africa’s appeal and the impact it has had on travelers due to all that it has to offer to those who visit.
“We are delighted and immensely proud that South Africa has been recognized as the ‘Best Country’ in the Telegraph Travel Awards 2023, and that our vibrant city of Cape Town has been crowned as the ‘Best City in the World.'” said Kgomotso Ramothea, Acting Director of the UK and Ireland Hub.
“These recognitions show the extraordinary experiences that our country offers and the unwavering dedication of our tourism industry. South Africa’s diverse landscapes, rich wildlife, and warm hospitality continue to captivate the hearts of travelers from around the world.” she added.
South Africa not only attracts attention for its beautiful landscapes but also for its history and vibrant culture, making it a magnet for tourists. Fortunately, after the COVID-19 restrictions were lifted, the outlook for the tourism sector is favorable in many places, and there are even people taking out personal loans to travel the world.
According to the Telegraph, the Top 10 tourist destinations in the world are: Cape Town, South Africa; Venice, Italy; Seville, Spain; Vancouver, Canada; Rome, Italy; Florence, Italy; Rio de Janeiro, Brazil; Sydney, Australia; Kyoto, Japan; and Dubrovnik, Croatia.
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