Africa: Steady growth for SA tourism industry with over 15m foreigners visiting in 2018
Statistics released for May show a year-on-year increase in tourists visiting the country. Each month, Statistics SA provides an in-depth barometer of what tourism and travel has looked like for South Africa.
These reports are a good indicator, because the tourism industry makes up a major part of South Africa’s economy. In 2018, Stats SA said one in 22 South Africans was employed in some way by the tourism industry.
The City of Cape Town hopes to build on this important sector with James Vos, the mayoral committee member for economic opportunities and tourism, saying tourism in the city sustains 300000 jobs.
The sector had the highest growth and employment potential, he said.
South Africa is a popular tourist destination. Last year, just under 16 million people visited from other countries. While this number is impressive, it also shows a slight decrease from 2017. Still, the number of foreign travellers to the country has steadily increased from 2004, when arrivals totalled less than 7 million.
In its most recent report, Stats SA shows that the number of foreign arrivals in May this year increased by just under 2% compared to May 2018, a positive indicator for the industry.
Stats SA data shows that 94.9% of foreign arrivals listed holidays as the reason for their visit to South Africa, while 25.5% of those tourists were from overseas.
Table Mountain, the Kruger National Park and the Robben Island Museum attract millions of foreign tourists every year. Travellers come from all over the world, with the leading overseas countries being the UK, US, Germany, France and the Netherlands.
In May in particular, the US contributed the largest number of travellers in 2017 and 2018.
Overseas tourists generally stay a minimum of five days in the country, according to 2018 data. This duration requires visitors to use accommodations, pay for transportation, and explore and take tours of various areas, making a major contribution to the tourism industry.
Vos said the City of Cape Town was working to make the city’s tourism industry thrive. He was proud of everything the city had to offer: “Cape Town is a rich in culture and filled with incredible potential, people and places to explore.”
He is working with the tourism sector to create new experiences that will attract travellers for years to come.
The City’s tourism-development strategy has set five new goals: ensuring visitor comfort; improving and diversifying products and experiences; stimulating demand; generating community involvement; benefits and support; and aiming for growth. With this new approach, they hope to create a significant number of new jobs.
While South Africa and Cape Town have made impressive strides for tourism in the past decade, Vos said he and City officials were prepared to put in the work to sustain growth and keep the industry employing South Africans. He was not disheartened by the slight decrease in numbers from 2017, and saw a bright future for the city.
BY MADELYN WINCHESTER