More tourists visit SA in the first quarter of 2012

Sunday, July 15, 2012

Overall tourist arrivals to South Africa grew by an impressive 10.5 percent in the first quarter of 2012, with strong growth recorded across all regions, he said.

The period from January to March 2012 saw a total of 2 267 807 tourist arrivals to South Africa - 216 031 or 10.5 percent more than in the corresponding period in 2011.

He also announced that overseas tourist arrivals were up by a combined 17.8 percent.

The minister said these were wonderful results for "the destination, the country, the tourism industry and the economy".

At the launch of the latest available tourist arrivals data on Sunday, the minister said it was a most encouraging sign that tourist arrivals growth had come from all regions.

Emerging markets continued their robust, positive growth of 2011, while traditional markets recovered the lost ground of the period 2008 to 2011 and bounced back to reach positive growth in the early part of the year, he said.

Tourist arrivals from Europe grew by 11.9 percent in the first three months of the year.

South Africa's biggest overseas source market, the United Kingdom, recovered from an overall decline in 2011 to post positive returns of 9.5 percent (delivering 133 729 tourists in the first three months of 2012).

Tourist arrivals from Germany maintained a strong positive growth trend, and with a 15.2 percent growth rate, the country was among the best-performing markets on the European continent.

"Robust sales and marketing partnerships across the region, South Africa's accessibility, and the exceptional value for money that the destination offers to European travellers were significant contributing factors to tourist arrivals growth from Europe," he said.

Meanwhile, the United States also returned excellent growth of 16.1 percent as South Africa maintained its status as a desirable and coveted leisure holiday experience for American travellers.

South Africa also continued to enjoy growth from the emerging markets during the first quarter of this year. Brazil posted 71.7 percent growth, India grew by 23.1 percent, while tourist arrivals from China increased by 67.7 percent.

In total, the regional Asian market returned tourist arrivals growth of more than 43 percent, delivering 85 189 tourists against 59 549 tourists for the same three months last year.

Tourist arrivals from regional African tourist markets achieved positive growth rates of 7.9 percent, with Angola up 48.5 percent, Nigeria with 26.7 percent growth, and Tanzania with 31.4 percent growth, standing out as exceptional continental-market achievers in the first three months of the year.

Van Schalkwyk said this overall growth in tourism could be ascribed to significant investments in the South African tourism industry in time, energy and resources.

These included a series of trade workshops across key markets, numerous travel, trade and media familiarisation trips hosted by South Africa, as well as on-going in-depth research into consumer needs.
The minister said South Africa's valuable partnerships and determination to defend and grow its traditional tourist markets were now yielding dividends, as the industry had worked hard during difficult times.

"We are extremely lucky to live in South Africa and to enjoy in our own backyard a destination that has grown tremendously in popularity and desirability all over the world.

"Let's work together and encourage each other to continue to make tourists feel at home, to travel South Africa ourselves like tourists in our own country and to continue offering the excellent service, value for money and accessibility that have delivered these exceptional results, which we are optimistic will continue well into the future," he said.