SA’s tourism sector continues on a positive trajectory

South Africa’s tourism sector continues to grow and attract international arrivals from all over the world.

According to the latest official release of international arrival figures by Statistics South Africa for January to March 2024, the country totalled 2.4 million, representing a remarkable 15.4% increase when compared with the same period in 2023.

Minister of Tourism Patricia de Lille has welcomed the increase in international travellers as it is a significant contributor to the economy and job creation.

“We are determined to continue with this momentum. South Africa remains attractive and accessible for all travellers to enjoy,” the Minister said on Tuesday.

South Africa welcomed 1.8 million tourist arrivals from the rest of the African continent between January and March 2024, marking a significant 74.5% of all arrivals.

Zimbabwe and Ghana stood out for their remarkable growth, with Zimbabwe experiencing a 21.8% increase in tourist arrivals to South Africa when compared to the first three months of 2023, totalling 613 675 arrivals, while Ghana recorded a 249.4% increase when compared to the same period in 2023, reaching 7 904 arrivals for January to March 2024.

“Ghana’s immense performance can be attributed to the fact that South Africa and Ghana announced a visa-waiver scheme on 1 November 2023. The visa-waiver allows for travel for periods of up to 90 days within a calendar year, for purposes of business or tourism.

“This coupled with targeted integrated marketing initiatives executed by South African Tourism to attract visitors from this market makes for a winning formula for the growth of our sector,” de Lille said.

Travellers from other parts of the world also continued to show their interest in South Africa.

Tourist arrivals from the Americas registered at 118 194 from January to March 2024, reflecting a 12.4% growth compared to the same period in 2023.

Strength in European markets

From January to March 2024, South Africa saw 420 727 tourist arrivals from Europe, an 8.6% increase compared to the same period in 2023.

“The United Kingdom remains the top European source market, with 125 420 tourists choosing South Africa, marking a 5.3% growth compared to 2023. Germany experienced a 9.9% increase in arrivals compared to same period in 2023, amounting to 98 954 tourists.

“This was followed by the Netherlands, which saw an increase of 9.9% when compared to 2023, amounting to 37 548 tourist arrivals between January and March 2024. Russia exhibited a dramatic growth of 9.6% when compared to 2023, contributing 9 329 arrivals in 2024,” the Ministry of Tourism said.

Asia markets

The Asian markets also showed significant growth with a total 49 741 arrivals from the region, representing an astounding 25.4% when compared to the same period in 2023.

“We welcomed 16 209 tourists from India; 0.9% lower compared to 2023. Notably, South Africa received 11 017 visitors from China registering a massive 82% increase in the first three months of 2024 when compared to the same period in 2023,” the Ministry said.

Middle East arrivals

South Africa received 2 387 arrivals from Saudi Arabia in 2024, marking an increase of 31.7% when compared to 2023.

The United Arab Emirates saw 321 arrivals to South Africa between January and March 2024

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