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April 2012 -  Tourist Arrival Figures continue to grow as it surpasses record-breaking World Cup year

South Africa’s tourism industry has managed to build on the momentum achieved during a record-breaking 2010, by growing a further 3.3% and attracting 8 339 354 international tourists in 2011.

The official 2011 tourism statistics were released in Parliament today by South Africa’s Minister of Tourism, Marthinus van Schalkwyk, who said that despite tough global economic conditions South Africa’s tourist arrivals had surpassed the 8 073 552 mark it reached when recording 15.1% growth in 2010, on the back of the country’s successful hosting of the 2010 FIFA World Cup.

“The 2010 FIFA World Cup was a once in a lifetime global showcase for our country which gave us unprecedented international media exposure worth billions of dollars and left us with enhanced, modern world-class tourist infrastructure. However, while it was a wonderful opportunity that certainly gave us a big boost, the tourism industry never became complacent after its success. Instead, we used it as a catalyst to work even harder to sustain that tourism growth, to defend our core tourist markets and to tap into the potential of new tourism markets.

We capitalised on our enhanced international awareness and positivity and refined our marketing efforts with our media and trade partners,” Minister van Schalkwyk said.

“And I’m delighted to say that the hard work by all in the tourism industry, both in the public and private sector, has paid off as we recorded a 3.3% increase in our 2011 international tourist arrivals figures. If you exclude the nearly 310 000 people who travelled specifically for the FIFA World Cup, then actual growth in 2011 was 7.4 percent, above the rate of global growth of 4.4%. We are therefore extremely happy with the 2011 tourist statistics and optimistic about the potential for future growth in South Africa’s tourism industry,” Minister van Schalkwyk added.

South Africa holds on to USA World Cup-related gain

The USA was one of the countries that saw the most fans travelling to the 2010 FIFA World Cup, with a 22.6 percent increase in US arrivals to South Africa in 2010 as over 30 000 US fans travelled for the tournament alone. And we are extremely happy that South Africa saw further growth out of the USA market in 2011, with a 1.9% increase in tourist arrivals seeing 287 614 US tourists travel to South Africa in total in 2011.

Impressive growth from emerging markets and Africa continues

“Our decision to increase our marketing focus on the major emerging economies continued to bear fruit in 2011 and we remain excited by the prospects for these markets going forward,” said Minister van Schalkwyk, who recently led trade workshops to both India and China as part of South Africa’s efforts to increase its foothold in these growing markets.

Nigeria and Tanzania were two of the continent’s biggest growth markets in 2011, with tourist arrivals from these two countries growing by 37.5% and 45.8% respectively.

“These are excellent numbers we are extremely pleased with. And I would like to take this opportunity to announce that the South African Government has allocated R218 million over the next three financial years to South African Tourism to grow our share of the African market. We have opened a country office in Angola and plan to have five SA Tourism offices open on the continent in the next five years, the second of which is set to open in Nigeria in the coming financial year. We cannot stress strongly enough how important the African tourist market is to us. Tourists from Africa are major leisure tourists, attracted by our country’s beauty, nightlife and lifestyle and shopping attractions. The upcoming 2013 African Cup of Nations being hosted by South Africa next year is a major opportunity for us to drive arrivals growth from the African continent in this financial year,” said Minister van Schalkwyk.  

Little change in how tourists experience South Africa

Neighbouring SADC countries continue to be the major source markets for tourist arrivals, with the most arrivals coming from Zimbabwe, Lesotho, Mozambique, Swaziland and Botswana, while the UK, US, Germany, Netherlands and France remain the country’s top five overseas source markets.

South Africa saw an increase in tourist arrivals for all purposes of travel, while the average number of provinces visited dropped slightly to 1.2. The average length of stay increased for all overseas markets and for African air markets.

Gauteng and the Western Cape remain by far the most visited provinces.

“Although the global economic financial crisis has not had a massive effect on tourism arrivals to South Africa, we have felt its effects in terms of length of stay and spend and look forward to seeing improving numbers in this regard as the world economy recovers,” said the Minister.

Leveraging off the diversity and vibrancy of South Africa’s people

“From a marketing perspective, the challenge in 2011 was to leverage off our phenomenal brand awareness and positivity from the 2010 FIFA World Cup, which was done across a variety of international platforms with the launch in May 2011 of the second phase of the successful 20 Experiences in 10 Days global campaign, which reached 1.2-billion consumers in 2011. As far as our brand was concerned, the focus was on developing a stronger emotional connection with South Africa and its people through our marketing work.”

“South African Tourism plays an active role in marketing the country, with 128 Joint Marketing Agreements in place across our key markets, with particularly successful partnerships in place in Germany, Brazil, the UK and at home in South Africa as well as globally with travel booking website Expedia,” explained Van Schalkwyk.

Festive season numbers give confidence that growth is set to continue

The outlook for the South African tourism industry looks increasingly positive with excellent festive season figures.

“We are confident that this growth in tourist arrivals is set to continue. In total we saw 9.3% more people visit South Africa in December 2011 than in December 2010, with a 9.6% increase in overseas arrivals and growth recorded in all of our key markets,” said Minister Van Schalkwyk.

Shaping our future together

In conclusion, Minister Van Schalkwyk called for a renewed commitment by both the private and public sector to grow the tourism industry.

“Although there is good reason for optimism for the South African tourism industry the economic climate remains difficult and competition for tourist arrivals fierce. For South Africa to maintain its tourism arrivals we need to see a collective, robust approach by all in the industry to keep South Africa on its current growth trajectory. With this in mind we will gather in Durban for INDABA 2012 from May 12-15 under the theme of “Shaping our Future Together” building strong partnerships for continued, sustainable tourism growth, the creation of jobs and a greater contribution to the country’s economy from our industry going forward,” said Minister van Schalkwyk.


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