Minister of Tourism, Patricia De Lille has called for tourists to explore hidden gems, as they too boast unparalleled beauty and value. The minister weighed on the diverse range of captivating destinations for traveller that South Africa offers and how Gauteng is taking the lead in international arrivals, spend and bed nights.
She was addressing delegates, buyers and exhibitors during the Tourism Investment seminar at the Africa’s Travel Indaba in Durban, where she highlighted that international visitors had a tendency to spend most of their nights in the Western Cape, followed by Gauteng. The Eastern Cape, Northern Cape, KZN, and the North West also draw tourists to their unique charms.
“While smaller provinces currently see fewer visitors, we encourage tourists to explore these hidden gems, as they too boast unparalleled beauty and value. South Africa’s diverse landscape promises a treasure trove of unforgettable experiences for travellers seeking adventure and discovery across our magnificent country. this can only be achieved through stakeholder partnering because if we work together, it will ensure that we recover tremendously the economy of tourism post Covid19.”
The Minister further saith that stakeholder-ship will further ensure a boost in tourism contribution to the economy and creation of sustainable jobs for the young and old in the sector. she further made an emphasis that South Africa was reaching new heights and recovering well post the Covid19 pandemic, as domestic overnight trips into the country grew by 41%, with overnight domestic spend on the rise at 24,4% compared to the first quarter of 2022.
“Tourism is one of the fastest growing sectors of the economy in Africa and the world, with scores of visitors traveling between countries, for purposes of business and leisure, discovering authentic products and services that countries have to offer. In recent years, the number of visitors visiting the continent grew substantially, prior to the pandemic that halted the tourism sector.” said Minister De Lille
Tourism latest statistics for the first quarter of 2023 painted a significant boost of 2,1 million visitors, a 102,5% increase as compared to the same period in 2022. Although during 2019 revealed a decline of 21,5%, which is a promising outlook as the country emerges from the covid19 pandemic. South Africa boosts with diverse product offering which therefore drives the visitor numbers into the country, with the best to offer when it comes to accommodation establishment, scenic beauty, hospitality and airlines amongst others, making the country more favourable and a destination of choice for travellers.
Minister De Lille said that it was clear message that South Africa is open for tourism, welcoming business while eagerly awaiting travellers from across Africa and the globe.
“Tourists from Europe contributed the most spend of R10,8 billion, followed by Africa with a collective spend of R9,3 billion. Air capacity has risen since last year, with a 56% increase in the first quarter compared to the same quarter in 2022. In 2023, South Africa reached 1,8 million seats and welcomed around 23 news routes”, the minister said.
According to the statistics released, Africa led the way again with 1,6 million arrivals, followed by Europe with 387 000 and America’s 104 000 visitors into the country. With that said, it is revealed that over 500 000 Zimbabwean travellers descended to South Africa in the first quarter of 2023, compared to 643 000 in the same period in 2019 and 173 000 in 2022.
The report states that in the first quarter of 2023, between January to March, Zimbabwean travellers visiting South Africa maintained its reign as South Africa’s top source market, a consistent upward trend since 2019.
“The pandemic undoubtedly left a dent in the tourism sector, however, strides are being made to revive the sector and gear up to catapult the country’s inbound tourism numbers beyond pre-covid levels. The South African tourism industry has demonstrated remarkable resilience and growth, outshining popular destinations like China, Italy, France and Brazil.”
“With focused action on improving visa turn-around time, increasing access to air transport, ensuring safety of passengers and aggressive marketing will position South Africa to reach its levels pre-covid19, this is because tourists are flocking back to the country simple because of our unparalleled natural beauty and warmth our this nation’s people.” she said.