South Africa’s tourism sector was given a massive boost by the successful hosting of the World Cup in 2010, when the country received a record-breaking 8.1 million foreign visitors. It has indeed grown in leaps and bounds over the years; South Africa’s tourist growth rate in 2012 was more than double the rate of the average global tourist growth, which the United Nations World Tourism Organisation estimated at about 4%.
Based on the tourism statistics released earlier this year by South African Tourism, Europe remains South Africa’s highest source of tourists. The UK continues to be South Africa’s biggest overseas tourism market. Last year 438,023 tourists travelled from the UK to South Africa. The United States is the second biggest market with 326,643 visitors in 2012. This was an increase of 13.6% from 2011. Germany was South Africa’s third biggest tourism market with 266,333 visitors.
A few years ago the Department of Tourism made the strategic decision to invest in the emerging markets on the continent as well as South America and Asia. As a result, arrivals from Africa have maintained a solid growth path, with growth of 8.5%. In light of this the Department of Tourism will invest R218 million over a three-year period to grow its share of the market even further. It will also be opening offices in Nigeria, Tanzania and Uganda through a hub strategy.
This financial year will also see the roll-out of South African Tourism’s global e-marketing strategy: ‘Meet South Africa’. This strategy will focus on the uniqueness of a South African holiday. To strengthen the country’s destination offering and enhance the overall visitor experience, it has embarked on a process to align the branding and service levels of more than 240 visitor information centres across the country.
South Africa has established itself not only as a leisure destination, but as a business tourism destination as well. In the first year of the establishment of the National Convention Bureau, it has secured 87 new association meetings for the period 2013 to 2017, which will contribute more than R2.6 billion to the economy. In 2013 alone, the 38 secured association meetings will bring more than 57,000 delegates to South Africa, who will inject R680 million into the economy.