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Apr 13 2012 12:14PM
 
Tourists flocking to SA
SOUTHERN SIGHTS: The country is still reaping the benefits of the Soccer World Cup, with 8.3 million foreign vistors landing in SA in the past year. One of the attractions is Cape Point Nature Reserve. Picture: GALLO IMAGES
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Siyabonga Mkhwanazi

South Africa continues to capitalise on the success of the 2010 Soccer World Cup through its increased attraction of foreign visitors to the country last year.

Tourism Minister Marthinus van Schalkwyk said yesterday the fact that more than 8.3 million tourists set foot in the country showed that the number of foreign visitors continued to grow.

Van Schalkwyk, who was briefing journalists in Parliament, said the department was building on the success of the Soccer World Cup that took place two years ago, while at the same time tapping into the new market.

Although the global economic meltdown was still affecting most of the world, South Africa had managed to withstand these challenges.

The increase in the number of tourists during 2011 showed that South Africa had grown its share of the industry, said Van Schalkwyk. Tourism in 2011, he said, had grown 3.3% pushing the number of visitors to more than 8.3 million.

Van Schalkwyk said there was no doubt that the Soccer World Cup, which had seen a huge investment in infrastructure, had exposed South Africa to the globe and enhanced the country’s image as a destination for tourists.

“While South Africa’s core markets in Europe and North America remain our major source of long-haul tourists, the country’s overall growth in 2011 was largely due to a 14.6% rise in the emerging markets of Asia (driven by growth of 24.3% from China and 26.2% by India in 2011),” said Van Schalkwyk. The number of visitors from African countries was up 6.9%.

Tourist arrivals from Europe declined by 3.5% due to the global economic crisis, but German tourism numbers jumped 9.3%, or by 236 000.

Despite the economic crisis, the number of visitors from North America increased by 2.3%. “The World Cup cushioned us from the difficulties facing the European market in 2010. Given that Europe’s woes are not over yet, a drop in tourists from this market in 2011 was expected as the continent’s price conscious consumers chose instead to travel for shorter periods of time, closer to home,” said Van Schalkwyk.

Tourism SA CEO Thulani Nzima said a continued rise in domestic tourism was important.

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