More than 10 million international tourists have visited South Africa in 2016, 13% more than in 2015, the ministry of tourism said on Monday.
“This is well over the global average growth rate for the period. It is estimated that about 1.2 billion international tourists travelled the world in 2016, representing growth of 3.9% on 2015,” the department said in a statement.
“In South Africa, the role of tourism in the balance of payments has become increasingly important. In 2015, tourism’s trade balance with the rest of the world was R36 billion, according to Statistics South Africa (StatsSA). This is a major stabilising force for the national current account.”
The department said the differing travel patterns and behaviours of the various travel markets sustain a large and diverse sector of businesses across South Africa.
Tourism Minister Derek Hanekom commended all the people who are working hard in the private and public sector to develop and promote tourism, and to provide visitors with excellent service and memorable experiences.
“The spectacular growth in tourist arrivals indicates that the close collaboration between various government departments, between the Department of Tourism and industry, and between suppliers and service providers on the ground has paid off,” he said.
“We have done well to capitalise on our status as a value for money destination, offering an array of experiences for all tourist markets.”
Lesotho was the fastest growing African source market in 2016, recording an increase of 26% compared to 2015.
The monthly distribution pattern of African tourist arrivals indicates a peak in March 2016, due mainly to the Easter holiday falling in March last year.
Hanekom said the robust performance of the tourism sector indicated its resilience and its enduring capacity to support jobs, a characteristic of the sector that is especially important for South Africa.
“Tourism touches the lives of all South African,” he said.
“Given its importance to our economy, we must continue to nurture the sector and drive increasingly impactful and collaborative strategies and programmes for sustained, inclusive growth.”
-African News Agency