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Tourists to South Africa increase 10.5%

Cable car at Table Mountain, South AfricaNew tourism figures show that the number of visitors to South Africa increased 10.5% in the first six months of the year. This is more than double the 5% international tourism growth rate. The figures reveal that the country attracted some 4,416,373 tourists between January and June, which is nearly 420,000 more than during the same period last year.

This was boosted by strong growth in foreign tourist arrivals, with a 17.1% increase in arrivals from outside Africa. This meant that visitor numbers rose from 993,364 to 1,163,477 during the period. The nation experienced a 40.7% growth in arrivals from Asia, and a 54.4% growth in visitors from Central and South America. China is also in the top five overseas source markets for the time, with a huge 68.4% increase in arrivals.

Tourism Minister Mr Marthinus van Schalkwyk says that outbound tourism from China continues growing phenomenally, with the country recording 30% growth in outbound tourism. The fact that South Africa has recorded more than double this growth rate proves they haven’t missed out on the opportunity, and their conversion efforts are delivering results. South African Airways launching direct flights between Johannesburg and Beijing at the beginning of the year has contributed to this growth.

Strong trade-relations and marketing efforts in other emerging markets like Brazil and India have helped South Africa as well. Arrivals from India continue increasing, with a 21.1% rise during the first half. There was also a huge 68.4% growth in visitors from Brazil. Minister Van Schalkwyk says Brazil has emerged as one of the most promising tourism markets since South Africa hosted the FIFA World Cup.

There has also been good growth in other tourism markets – the UK, France, Italy and Australia. Arrivals from the UK grew 5%, France grew 13.7%, Italy grew 16.2% and Australia grew 16.3%; while German visitor numbers grew 12.2%. Tourist numbers from the US, which is the nation’s second biggest tourism source market, grew 16.3%. Mr Marthinus van Schalkwyk said the positive growth from European arrivals is encouraging. He added hopes that the tourism industry will soak up these figures and continue working together to increase tourism in South Africa.

However, regional Africa has been one of the strongest performers this year so far, with arrivals from the region rising 8.3%. The Minister says that their focused marketing efforts and the tourism industry’s hard work are paying dividends despite the economic downturn. Although the UN World Tourism Organisation predicts that global arrivals will slow down in the last six months of the year, they are thrilled with this year’s strong start. They are also confident this year will be worth celebrating as far as the tourism industry goes.

Minister Van Schalkwyk added that they are very encouraged that their tourism growth strategy to increase visitors to South Africa is producing the desired results. Excellent growth has been realised in the markets they are actively marketing their Destination South Africa campaign in. Good returns have been achieved in markets they have identified as strong potential tourism sources as well. Their marketing efforts are on the right path.

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