SA tourist arrivals continue to grow

Pretoria - Tourist arrivals in South Africa are continuing on a growth trajectory, according to the latest tourism figures releases by Statistics SA.

More than 760 000 tourists arrived in the country in May this year, 11% more than in May 2015.

This brings the total tourist arrivals for January to May 2016 to over 4.2 million, which is an increase of 15.7% compared to the same period last year -- more than three times the average annual global growth rates experienced in international tourism.

Tourism Minister Derek Hanekom said the continuing growth in international tourist arrivals is wonderful news for the tourism sector.

“It will have a multiplier effect on the many industries that support tourism, so it’s good news for the wider economy as well.

“The growth from overseas markets in the first five months of this year, compared with the same period last year, at 18.5%, shows that our enduring tourism assets and our diverse products and offerings are making South Africa a great value-for-money destination. All our major overseas markets are performing well,” he said

Minister Hanekom said among traditional overseas markets, the US has grown impressively at 18% this year, while Germany is a top performer with 21% growth. The UK, a leading overseas market, has grown at a solid 13.7%.

“The positive performance of non-traditional source markets like India and China has also been sustained in May, and these two countries are moving up the rankings as source markets for South Africa.

“The spectacular growth in tourist numbers from China continues, with a 50% year-on-year increase. This is in keeping with the overall growth trend this year from that market.”

Minister Hanekom said Indian tourist numbers, at 14 237, showed a growth of 37% from last May and India became the third biggest overseas source market to South Africa in that month.

“May is traditionally the month in which we receive the most tourists from that country. Also of note is that tourists from Saudi Arabia numbered more than 1 000 in May, an exciting new development. We will watch with interest to see if these numbers are sustained from this relatively small, but high-spending market,” Minister Hanekom said.

The Minister said he is delighted with the impressive growth in tourist numbers so far this year.

“Continued investment in creative and effective joint marketing, infrastructure, tourism experiences and human resources will allow the destination to both capitalise and continue with this trend,” he said.