The nation recorded a total 9,591,828 visitor arrivals last year, representing 5.5 percent rise on 2007 when arrivals totalled 9,090,881. The destination also remains cautiously optimistic of achieving its target of 10 million arrivals in 2010.
Strong growth from regional markets over the year (7 percent) and from overseas markets in the first six months (8.8 percent) offset declines in foreign visitor growth during the second half of the year.
Arrivals were down from many of the overseas markets, including the UK, from which visits dropped by 2.5% from full year figures for 2007, with 485,166 visitors in 2008 against 497,687 in 2007.
South Africa’s arrivals figures are in line with predictions by the United Nations World Tourism Organisation (UNWTO) that the global industry would stagnate or even decline in the second half of 2008. This trend will continue, the UNWTO says, until the volatile world economy recovers.
Big events in coming months are expected to positively impact visitor growth. “The British Lions tour to South Africa, the Confederations Cup in June and, of course, the 2010 FIFA World Cup will boost arrivals figures and will be a boon to the South African industry during a time when the global industry is sure to feel the pinch of continuing economic turbulence,” said Lebohang Mokhesi, country manager UK for South African Tourism.
“There has been unprecedented and encouraging demand for 2010 FIFA World Cup tickets, giving us every indication that we will see hundreds of thousands of visitors flock to South Africa for the World Cup. We are optimistic that the Confederations Cup will be well attended, too. Moreover, the domestic market is a very lucrative one. South Africans are reconsidering foreign holidays in favour of more affordable holidays in South Africa,” she added.
South Africa Tourism scooped “Africa’s Leading Tourist Board” at the 2008 World Travel Awards. And overall South African organisation won 75 awards at the glittering ceremony at the ICC Durban. The build up to this year’s event is already underway and takes place on 10 May 2009.
For more info on what’s coming up in South Africa, read BTN online issue from ITB 2009