StatsSA figures show the country continues to attract global holidaymakers
Between January and July alone, 4.8 million tourists visited South Africa. We have also seen an influx of travelers from India.
The Kruger National Park is one of the main attractions for international tourists in SA. Photo: Sibongumenzi Sibiya/The Citizen
With the summer season here, tourism and hospitality businesses are bracing for a massive influx of tourists. Based on healthy inbound travel figures already seen this year, South Africa can expect a thriving tourism season over the coming months.
Between January to July alone, a sizeable 4.8 million international tourists visited South Africa, according to the Government Communications and Information System. That is an increase of 70.6% compared to the same period in 2022.
The latest Statistics SA (StatsSA) report for August revealed that foreign arrivals increased by 20.1% year-on-year (from 820 708 in August 2022 to 985 800 in August 2023); departures rose by 22,6%; and transits increased by 32.9%.
These figures undoubtedly signal that the country continues to be an attraction to global holidaymakers. Based on 2023 Q1 statistics, the top international tourist arrivals were from the United Kingdom, Germany, the US and the Netherlands.
This is consistent with pre-pandemic figures from a Quarterly Tourism Factsheet in 2018, where all these countries are SA’s top overseas markets. Anton Gillis, CEO at Kruger Gate Hotel, said although local hospitality businesses were used to seeing people from those countries, they were now seeing an increase in Middle Eastern holidaymakers.
Last year, Emirates airline and the South African Tourism Board signed a memorandum of understanding to mutually market tourism and inbound visits to South Africa from principal markets within the Emirates network. Middle Eastern holidaymakers are spending roughly between 15 and 20 days in South Africa, making this a lucrative, growing market, added Gillis.
Visitors from India
He said India has emerged as SA’s sixth-largest foreign source market, with South Africa observing a 200% surge in travellers from India over the last year.
By next year, Indian travellers are projected to spend over $42 billion per year on outbound travel.
SA Tourism recently kick-started a “Learn South Africa” travel trade initiative in New Delhi, holding six training events across India to provide Indian travel agents with effective resources to market SA as a holiday destination.
This year, SA Tourism had a target of 47 000 Indian visitors, which was already achieved in the first half of the year – and current projections predict that the numbers could surpass 80 000 for the full year.
An increase in international flights to South Africa has also boosted the number of global visitors to our country.
“Many international airlines cut back on their capacity during the pandemic but airlines are reintroducing flights. This increased airlift capacity can only have a positive impact on the local economy,” said Sandra
Kneubuhler, Radisson Hotel Group’s district director and country director of sales for South Africa. Kneubuhler said South African Airways has just resumed flights between Cape Town and Joburg to Sao Paulo, Brazil. Virgin Atlantic has resumed its Cape Town and London flight route – which will add 80 000 seats to the route.
Also, the resumption of the Hong Kong-Joburg route by Cathay Pacific is “wonderful news for our industry and country”, said Kneubuhler.
Other new airlift includes Ethiopian Airlines’ plans to increase flights to South Africa by up to 35 flights a week; Swiss airline Edelweiss adding to its capacity between Cape Town and Zurich; and Saudia to start direct flights from Jeddah to Joburg in December.
And, early next year, Lufthansa will return to Joburg from Munich with three weekly flights and United Airlines will start flying from Chicago to Joburg.
A Cities Economic Impact Report by the World Travel & Tourism Council recently revealed positive signs of recovery for South Africa’s travel and tourism sector, with its findings showing that our major cities are witnessing a significant recovery as global travellers head back to our shores