5 May 2010
The country’s reputation as a world-class destination would be further entrenched after the Fifa World Cup, Tourism Minister Marthinus van Schalkwyk has told MPs.
Delivering his budget vote speech in Parliament in Cape Town this week, Van Schalkwyk said the World Cup would leave a tangible and lasting tourism legacy in South Africa.
He was confident that the tourism industry would also benefit from the powerful word-of-mouth marketing when soccer fans returned home as ambassadors and advocates for South Africa.
“Long after the whistle is blown at the last match, we will continue to reap the rewards of investments in this tournament which have catalysed huge developments,” he said.
He said the local tourism industry outperformed world trends in 2009, with a growth of 3.6% in foreign arrivals with a total of more than 9.9-million foreign arrivals to the country compared to about 9.6-million in 2008. This increase represented a 7.4% contribution to gross domestic product (GDP).
The total foreign direct spend in 2009 grew by 7% compared to 2008 to R79.4-billion.
“This is a tremendous feather in the cap of the industry in a time when all other tourism markets worldwide were in a slump,” Van Schalkwyk said.
African, Asian growth
Van Schalkwyk said arrivals to South Africa were driven by healthy growth from Asia, with a 3.7% increase, African air markets with a 3.3% increase, and African land markets, which saw 5.7% growth.
“The particularly good growth from China (12.4%) and India (17.5%) is considered a good return on South African Tourism’s investment in these markets,” he added.
Turning to domestic tourism, Van Schalkwyk said that the number of South African adults who went on domestic trips increased from about 14-million in 2008 to about 15-million in 2009.
The number of trips taken fell from about 33-million in 2008 to 30-million in 2009, and the average nominal spend per trip also declined from R780 in 2008 to R730 in 2009 as consumers tightened their belts.
This, said Van Schalkwyk, was a continuation of a trend that started in 2007 as a result of economic pressure on consumers.
“Given the volatility of the international market, it is of course vital that any country fosters a healthy domestic tourism industry, and this is one of the aspects of our industry we will address in the tourism sector strategy,” he said.
Tourism Sector Strategy
Meanwhile, the department is finalising the National Tourism Sector Strategy, which will among other things inspire and accelerate the responsible growth of the tourism industry from 2010 to 2015.
Van Schalkwyk said they would launch the strategy for public comment before the end of May.
In order to create an environment conducive to the growth and development of tourism in South Africa, the department has also embarked on a process to review and update the existing Tourism Act of 1993.
The proposed legislation will be tabled in Parliament during the last quarter of 2010.