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Tuesday, May 7, 2013

Impressive growth of 10.2% in international tourist visitors to South Africa in 2012.

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A total of 9 188 368 international tourists visited South Africa in 2012, 10.2 per cent more than the 8 339 354 tourists who travelled to the country in 2011, President Jacob Zuma announced in Cape Town yesterday.

South Africa's tourist growth rate in 2012 was more than double the rate of average global tourist growth of about 4 per cent estimated by the United Nations World Tourism Organisation in 2012.

South Africa saw particularly good overseas tourist growth throughout 2012 in Australia, posting a 16.2 per cent growth overall attracting a total of 120 315 visitors to South Africa last year.

New Zealand has also demonstrated uplift in arrival figures with visitors numbers increasing to 22,209 - representing a 17 per cent growth. In December 2012 alone, the market saw a 26 per cent growth in tourists travelling to South Africa in 2012.

Europe remained the highest source of overseas tourists to South Africa, growing by 9.5 per cent on 2011 figures and attracting a total of 1 396 978 tourists to the country last year – more than half the total number of overseas tourists.

The United States is South Africa's second biggest overseas tourism market, with 326 643 tourists from the USA visiting in 2012 (up 13.6 per cent on 2011 figures), with Germany the third biggest overseas market with 266 333 tourists (up 13 per cent on 2011 figures).

Particularly strong growth was recorded in 2012 from Asia (up 33.7 per cent on the figures recorded in 2011), driven by growth from China and India; and Central and South America (up 37 per cent), thanks to continued good tourist growth out of Brazil.

"We are extremely happy with our tourist arrivals figures for 2012 and our continued tourism growth from all regions. This phenomenal tourism growth is evidence that we are successfully setting ourselves apart in a competitive marketplace and that South Africa's reputation as a friendly, welcoming, inspiring and unique tourism destination continues to grow," said President Zuma.

President Zuma said that the 2012 tourist growth figures confirmed that the country's tourism marketing efforts were on track, backed by a strong, professional tourism industry that offered a wide variety of tourist offerings to suit every experience and every budget.

"These figures give us confidence that we are making good progress in our efforts to grow the tourism industry in South Africa. But we cannot become complacent. More and more countries around the world are realising the opportunity that tourism presents for growing their economies and creating jobs and our geographic position makes our fight for the global tourism share more difficult than most. As a tourism industry we have to remain committed to working together to grow tourism to our country, with the support of all South Africans, all of whom have the power to be important tourism ambassadors," said President Zuma.

"Greater collaboration will no doubt go a long way in making South Africa a more accessible destination for visitors from these markets and ensuring that these countries continue to fuel our industry's success going forward."

Foreign tourists spent a total of R76.4 billion in South Africa last year, up 7.6% on the total foreign direct spend in the country in 2011. Spend by tourists from the Americas, Asia & Australasia as well as Europe have all increased. The only decrease in spend was from tourists from our continental land markets, which lead to the average spend per tourist decreasing by 2, 3 per cent.

The average length of stay decreased from 8.5 nights per tourist in 2011 to 7.6 nights in 2012 driven off shorter stays by tourists from most of our markets. This is a global trend that affects all our competitors due to the economic downturn around the world.

President Zuma also referred to the latest Tourism Satellite Account (TSA) released by Statistics South Africa, for the period ending December 2011.

The TSA provides a tourism dimension to the System of National Accounts and contains important information about the performance of the Tourism Sector in the economy. The TSA reported the following results: Direct tourism contribution to GDP went up by 5% to R84.3 billion in 2011.

Direct employment in the sector as a percentage of overall employment in the country went up from 4.3% to 4.5% between 2010 and 2011. This was as a result of the increase of about 31,000 direct jobs in the sector from 2010 to a total direct employment of 598,432 in 2011.

"These results clearly show that we are well on our way to achieving the goals that we have set for ourselves for the tourism sector," concluded President Zuma.

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