It feels real good to know that irrespective of how violent we appear outside the shores of the country, foreigners still count on us when it comes to tourism – a development that has put a smile on the face of Tourism minister, Derek Hanekom.
According to the Tourism and Migration Report released by Statistics South Africa this week, the first quarter of the year saw an exceptionally strong rebound in tourist arrivals in South Africa.
Tourist arrivals in the first three months this year had an estimated 18.7% growth compared to the first quarter of 2015. Significantly, in March alone, the number of tourists who visited South Africa soared by 23.4%, compared to March 2015.
The report further indicates that in March 2016, there were 1 435 879 foreign arrivals to South Africa, with an estimated 1 345 087 visitors.
A breakdown of tourists by regions showed 235 640 from overseas; 653 598 from the SADC countries; 14 422 from ‘other’ African countries and the country of residence of 934 tourists was classified as unspecified.
The United Kingdom continued to be the main source of overseas arrivals in the first quarter of 2016. UK arrivals increased from 129 220 in 2015 to 147 639 in 2016, a growth of about 14.3%.
Arrivals from China in the first quarter of this year grew by 65.2% compared to last year, and arrivals from India grew by 16.9% during the same period.
Tourism Minister, Derek Hanekom Reacts
However, Tourism minister Derek Hanekom believes the remarkable increase in arrivals recorded in March could be attributed to the Easter holiday falling in March this year while it was in April last year.
With this result, it is apparent that tourism in South Africa has the enduring capacity to support and grow our national economy. “Our task now is to maintain the positive trend by improving our performance throughout the year,” Hanekom added.
He remarked that the current exchange rate has benefited tourists from several source markets. “They are finding incredible value in visiting South Africa.
“All spheres of government, our partners in industry, entrepreneurs and communities must continue working together to make the best of the bumper year we expect.
The strong performance during peak season points to the great potential of attracting more visitors in different seasons throughout the year.”
On the other hand, the minister said South African Tourism is now working together with the industry on a “counter-seasonal marketing strategy” in order to achieve this.