More tourists flock to South Africa

2 March 2011

South Africa recorded a remarkable 15% increase in tourist arrivals to the country in 2010 – outperforming the global average by 8%. And while the Fifa World Cup in June and July played a role in the increase, tourist arrivals were buoyant all year round.

Last year saw just over eight million (8 073 552) tourist arrivals compared to slightly over seven million (7 011 865) in 2009, comparing well with international standards.

Figures from the UN World Tourism Organisation showed that global tourism arrivals were estimated to have grown by 6.7% in 2010. This meant that South Africa outperformed the global market by 8%.

Tourism Minister Marthinus van Schalkwyk, announcing the figures in Cape Town on Tuesday, said he had “no doubt of further growth this year”.

“We are delighted with these strong growth figures, particularly as it comes so soon after a global economic recession,” he said.

World Cup tourists, new markets

The Department of Tourism said 90% of the tourists who came for the World Cup had indicated that they would want to come to South Africa again, as the tournament had created a better image of the country.

“From the results of our survey on arrivals during the World Cup, we know that more than 309 000 tourists arrived in South Africa for the primary purpose of the World Cup,” Van Schalkwyk said. “The World Cup arrivals therefore represent about four percent of the total arrivals for 2010.”

He said the legacy of the World Cup was a major boost for the tourism industry and had cemented a foundation for sustained investment and growth in the industry.

“In terms of reaping the rewards of the World Cup, now is not the time to sit back,” Van Schalkwyk said. “I would like to call on the entire industry to continue to build on this positive affirmation of our country and to aggressively entrench our core tourism markets and attract exciting emerging markets.”

New markets such as Brazil, China and India played a big role in growing the industry in 2010, he said.

“In terms of growth from the regional markets, the Americas grew the fastest at 37.4% compared to 2009,” he said. This was followed by Asia and Australasia at 34.6%, with long-haul markets showing an increase of 21%.

Solid base to build on

The UK, US, Germany, the Netherlands and France remained South Africa’s top five overseas source markets. In emerging markets, notable growth came from Brazil with growth of 66.7%, China with an increase of 62.3%, India with 29.7% and Nigeria with 10%, albeit from relatively low bases.

“These figures provide a solid base on which we can build in term of our growth targets for emerging markets,” Van Schalkwyk said. “From a tourism perspective, we stand to gain tremendously from our recent inclusion in the BRIC partnership, and we are aligning our planning and strategies accordingly.”

SAinfo reporter and BuaNews