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South African tourism numbers show impressive growth

 

touristarrivals insideIncrease in tourist arrivals is more than two-and-a-half times the global average, says Tourism Minister Marthinus van Schalkwyk The tourism sector's contribution to South Africa's GDP and employment continues to grow, with latest figures released by Statistics South Africa showing that the sector added R93.3-billion to the country's economy in the period ending December 2012.

Tourism Satellite Account statistics released by StatsSA show that the tourism sector directly contributed R93.3-billion, or 3% of GDP, in 2012, up from R83.5-billion in 2011. In addition, tourism contributed some 617 287 direct jobs in 2012, some 4.6% of direct employment in the country, up from more than 591 785 direct jobs in 2011.

The growing tourism financial and employment figures above correlate with the rising number of international foreign arrivals to South Africa. StatsSA reports that there was a 10.5% increase in the number of international foreign arrivals to the country in the past year, from 13 451 565 in 2012 to 14 860 216 in 2013.

International tourist arrivals also recorded an increase. South Africa welcomed 9 616 964 tourists in 2013, up from the 9 188 368 tourists that visited South Africa in 2012 – a 4.7% increase.

Commenting on the latest tourism figures, Tourism Minister Marthinus van Schalkwyk said the increase in tourist arrivals was more than two-and-a-half times the global average.

"South Africa's tourism industry continues to show good growth and we remain confident in the ongoing performance and sustainability of the sector," said Van Schalkwyk.

In terms of tourist arrivals by region, Europe - South Africa's largest overseas market for tourist arrivals - recorded the largest number with 1 494 978 arrivals in 2013, a 7% increase on the

1 396 978 European tourists that visited South Africa in 2012.

There was also double-digit growth in 2013 for three of South Africa's largest markets in Europe, with tourist arrivals from Germany growing by 14.2% to 304 090; from France by 10.3% to 134 840; and from Italy by 10.6% to 67 790. South Africa’s largest overseas source market, the United Kingdom, however, grew by a modest 1% to reach a total of 442 523 tourist arrivals in 2013.

South Africa also saw increases from other regions, notably North America, which recorded 417 582 tourists in 2013, up from 393 446 in 2012. South Africa's second largest market, the United States, accounted for 348 646 tourist arrivals in 2013, reflecting a 6.7% growth on the 326 643 Americans who visited South Africa in 2012. Asia and Central & South America also recorded increases, with these markets growing by 34% and 37% respectively.

Looking East, 435 076 Asian tourists chose to visit South Africa in 2013, a 9.2% increase on 2012 numbers. Tourist arrivals from China, South Africa's fourth-largest source market for tourist arrivals for the second year in a row, continued to be on the upside, growing by 14.7% to reach 151 847 tourist arrivals in 2013. Arrivals from India grew by 5.5% to reach 112 672 arrivals in 2013. Tourists arrivals from Australasia grew by 4.0% in 2013, with 148 660 arrivals recorded.

The African continent remains by far the largest source of tourism arrivals to South Africa. Tourist numbers from the continent rose by almost 4% from 6 634 933 in 2012 to 6 889 389 in 2013. Nigeria, the largest African air market for South Africa's tourist arrivals, grew by 15.4% to reach 84 589.

"We expect our first fully fledged South African Tourism office in the continent, which we opened in Lagos at the beginning of this year, to result in continued growth in arrivals from this market of growing importance and from the West African region as a whole," said Van Schalkwyk.

Only two decades into the country's new democracy, Van Schalkwyk said the tourism industry has achieved much and he was confident it would continue to grow and develop South Africa.

"The reality is that each year our invitation to come and visit South Africa - land of incredible wildlife, diverse experiences and most notably, warm and welcoming people - is being accepted by an ever-growing number of people from around the world," he said.

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