By Enyichukwu Enemanna
South Africa’s Tourism Minister Patricia de Lille has posited that the sector is showing a strong sign of recovery with over four million tourist arrivals in the first half of 2023.
The Minister spoke earlier in the week during the second National Tourism Safety Forum meeting in Cape Town, which had in attendance various stakeholders in the tourism sector.
“Our arrival numbers for 2023 are looking good, demonstrating that South Africa is still a favourable tourist destination and we are eager to welcome more tourists as we head into the busy summer season,” Lille stated.
She said the development is a strong indication that South Africa is still a favourable tourist destination.
According to the latest data from Statistics South Africa [Stats SA], this is a significant increase from the 2.3 million tourist arrivals between January and June 2022.
The figure which covers January to June 2023 represents a 78.2% increase in the first half of 2023 when compared to the same period in 2022.
De Lille said South Africa receives millions of tourists per year, and the vast majority of visitors return home without any issues and a memorable experience of the country.
“This is a testament to the marketing efforts that we have implemented to attract tourists from this region. Africa remains a key source market for us, and we are committed to collaborating as a tourism sector to make sure we welcome visitors from this region and that we cater for their needs and preferences”, she assured.
Beyond the African continent, South Africa has welcomed more visitors from other regions too. The Asia region almost doubled its figures with a 99.5% growth compared to 2022.
According to her, “This year, Europe, the largest source of visitors outside Africa, also experienced solid growth of 66%, when compared to the same period in 2022. These robust figures showcase South Africa’s charm and attractiveness as well as the work that we are doing in marketing South Africa as a tourist destination of choice.”
North America, Central & South America, and the Middle East also demonstrated strong growth trends with rates of 70.6%, 74.4%, and 75.8% respectively.
“These robust figures showcase South Africa’s charm and attractiveness as well as the work that we are doing in marketing South Africa as a tourist destination of choice.”
Meanwhile, the department is gearing up for the summer season and will be launching the Summer Campaign in two weeks’ time in the Eastern Cape.
She said the previous meeting of the forum which held in May saw all representatives agreed on clear actions to address tourism safety.
“While the latest statistics from StatsSA reveal an upward trend in tourist arrivals, issues of safety are an obstacle in converting would-be tourists to visit our country. As I said after the previous National Tourism Safety Forum meeting, crime is a matter which affects tourism in many parts of the world.”