South Africa’s tourism industry has announced that they have managed to build on the momentum achieved during a record-breaking 2010, by growing a further 3.3% and attracting 8,339,354 international tourists in 2011.
The official 2011 tourism statistics were released in Parliament today by South Africa’s Minister of Tourism, Marthinus van Schalkwyk, who said that despite tough global economic conditions South Africa’s tourist arrivals had surpassed the 8,073, 552 mark it reached when recording 15.1% growth in 2010, on the back of the country’s successful hosting of the 2010 FIFA World Cup.
“The 2010 FIFA World Cup was a once in a lifetime global showcase for our country which gave us unprecedented international media exposure worth billions of dollars and left us with enhanced, modern world-class tourist infrastructure. However, while it was a wonderful opportunity that certainly gave us a big boost, the tourism industry never became complacent after its success. Instead, we used it as a catalyst to work even harder to sustain that tourism growth, to defend our core tourist markets and to tap into the potential of new tourism markets.
We capitalised on our enhanced international awareness and positivity and refined our marketing efforts with our media and trade partners,” Minister van Schalkwyk said.
“And I’m delighted to say that the hard work by all in the tourism industry, both in the public and private sector, has paid off as we recorded a 3.3% increase in our 2011 international tourist arrivals figures. If you exclude the nearly 310 000 people who travelled specifically for the FIFA World Cup, then actual growth in 2011 was 7.4 percent, above the rate of global growth of 4.4%. We are therefore extremely happy with the 2011 tourist statistics and optimistic about the potential for future growth in South Africa’s tourism industry,” Minister van Schalkwyk added.
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% growth in the emerging markets of Asia (driven by growth of 24.3% from China and 26.2% by India in 2011). Tourist numbers were also up thanks to a 6.9% increase in tourist arrivals from regional Africa continent (with growth of 37.5% from Nigeria).
European tourist arrivals declined by 3.5%, due largely to the ongoing impact of the global economic crisis in many countries in Europe, while North American numbers grew by 2.3%, despite the continent also facing major economic challenges. If World Cup numbers are excluded, growth would have been 2.4% for Europe, 13.7% for North America, 26.3% for Asia and 9.1% for Africa in 2011.
The USA was one of the countries that saw the most fans travelling to the 2010 FIFA World Cup, with a 22.6 percent increase in U.S. arrivals to South Africa in 2010 as over 30,000 U.S. fans travelled for the tournament alone. And we are extremely happy that South Africa saw further growth out of the USA market in 2011, with a 1.9% increase in tourist arrivals seeing 287,614 U.S. tourists travel to South Africa in total in 2011.
“That we were able to maintain the massive increase in arrivals of 2010 and still grow even more in 2011 in an uncertain economy is evidence that the successful hosting of the tournament had an excellent impact on arrivals out of this very important market. It is also testament to the hard work by our team in the United States, in tandem with our trade and media partners,” said Minister Van Schalkwyk.
Neighbouring SADC countries continue to be the major source markets for tourist arrivals, with the most arrivals coming from Zimbabwe, Lesotho, Mozambique, Swaziland and Botswana, while the UK, U.S., Germany, Netherlands and France remain the country’s top five overseas source markets.
South Africa saw an increase in tourist arrivals for all purposes of travel, while the average number of provinces visited dropped slightly to 1.2. The average length of stay increased for all overseas markets and for African air markets. Gauteng and the Western Cape remain by far the most visited provinces.
“Although the global economic financial crisis has not had a massive effect on tourism arrivals to South Africa, we have felt its effects in terms of length of stay and spend and look forward to seeing improving numbers in this regard as the world economy recovers,” said the Minister.
Leveraging off the diversity and vibrancy of South Africa’s people
“From a marketing perspective, the challenge in 2011 was to leverage off our phenomenal brand awareness and positivity from the 2010 FIFA World Cup, which was done across a variety of international platforms with the launch in May 2011 of the second phase of the successful 20 Experiences in 10 Days global campaign, which reached 1.2-billion consumers in 2011. As far as our brand was concerned, the focus was on developing a stronger emotional connection with South Africa and its people through our marketing work.”
“South African Tourism plays an active role in marketing the country, with 128 Joint Marketing Agreements in place across our key markets, with particularly successful partnerships in place in Germany, Brazil, the UK and at home in South Africa as well as globally with travel booking website Expedia,” explained Van Schalkwyk.
Festive season numbers give confidence that growth is set to continue
The outlook for the South African tourism industry looks increasingly positive with excellent festive season figures.
“We are confident that this growth in tourist arrivals is set to continue. In total we saw 9.3% more people visit South Africa in December 2011 than in December 2010, with a 9.6% increase in overseas arrivals and growth recorded in all of our key markets,” said Minister Van Schalkwyk.
Shaping our future together
In conclusion, Minister Van Schalkwyk called for a renewed commitment by both the private and public sector to grow the tourism industry.
“Although there is good reason for optimism for the South African tourism industry the economic climate remains difficult and competition for tourist arrivals fierce. For South Africa to maintain its tourism arrivals we need to see a collective, robust approach by all in the industry to keep South Africa on its current growth trajectory. With this in mind we will gather in Durban for INDABA 2012 from May 12-15 under the theme of “Shaping our Future Together” building strong partnerships for continued, sustainable tourism growth, the creation of jobs and a greater contribution to the country’s economy from our industry going forward,” said Minister van Schalkwyk.
South African Tourism, www.southafrica.net