Increase in international arrivals in 2023

31 Jan 2024 | SANews


Tourism Minister Patricia de Lille has expressed delight at the impressive number of travellers coming to South Africa from the African continent and has highlighted the strategic decisions that contributed to the growth in specific markets.

This comes after Statistics South Africa (Stats SA) said from January to December 2023, South Africa recorded an increase in the number of international arrivals which underscored the rising momentum of South Africa’s tourism sector.

According to Stats SA, international tourist arrivals from January to December 2023 totalled 8.5 million, representing a remarkable 48.9% increase when compared with the same period in 2022.

South Africa welcomed 6.4 million visitors from the rest of the African continent between January and December 2023, marking a significant 75.6% of all arrivals.

Zimbabwe and Kenya stood out for their remarkable growth, with Zimbabwe experiencing a 70.8% increase in tourist arrivals to South Africa when compared to 2022, totalling 2.1 million arrivals, while Kenya recorded a 99% surge when compared to 2022, reaching 42 403 arrivals for January to December 2023.

“Kenya’s remarkable performance can be attributed to the strategic decision by government to simplify the visa regime in 2023 as well as targeted and effective insights-driven marketing campaigns,” de Lille said.

“This recovery can be attributed to consistent efforts to showcase South Africa as a welcoming, responsible tourism destination, highlighting experiences that align with intrepid, green economy conscious travellers,” the Minister said.

Tourist arrivals from the Americas registered at 455 901 reflecting a 39.8% growth compared to the same period in 2022.

The United States of America saw 353 975 arrivals to South Africa, marking a 35% increase compared to 2022.

Strength in European markets

From January to December 2023, South Africa saw 1.2 million tourist arrivals from Europe, a 38.2% increase compared to the same period in 2022.

The United Kingdom remains the top European source market with 356 160 tourists choosing South Africa, marking a 25.8% growth compared to 2022.

Germany experienced a 41.6% increase in arrivals compared to 2022, amounting to 245 259 tourists.

This was followed by the Netherlands which saw an increase of 45.5% when compared to 2022, amounting to 131 371 tourist arrivals between January and December 2023.

Russia exhibited a dramatic growth of 74.7% when compared to 2022, contributing 28 357 arrivals in 2023

Noteworthy growth from the Asian markets

Asian markets also showed significant growth with a total 199 308 arrivals from the region, representing an astounding 69.1% when compared to the same period in 2022.

South Africa welcomed 79 774 tourists from India, a 43.7% growth compared to 2022

Notably, there were 37 164 arrivals from China, a massive 204.9% surge in 2023 when compared to 2022

Robust gains in the Middle East

The Middle East saw a robust increase with 54 339 arrivals in the January to December 2023 period – a 33.7% growth when compared to the same period in 2022. South Africa received 16 351 arrivals from Saudi Arabia in 2023, marking an increase of 42.6% when compared to 2022. The United Arab Emirates saw 6 511 arrivals to South Africa, a remarkable 110% increase when compared to 2022.

The Minister emphasised the charm and magnetism of South Africa as a tourism destination, with specific mention of the reopening of the Chinese market and the resumption of direct flight routes in 2023.

Looking ahead, de Lille said there was a need to unlock barriers such as visa regulations and limited air access and airlift for sustained growth.

The Minister expressed commitment to working with partners and government colleagues to facilitate policy and regulation revisions.

She thanked all the visitors for choosing to visit South Africa and likewise thanked South Africans for their continuous hospitality and warm welcome shown to visitors.


 

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