Tourism to SA on the up – despite some weird visa odds

10 months ago written by

With strong tourist arrivals from Central and South America, tourism to South Africa is on the up despite some crazy visa restrictions by the government doing almost everything possible to achieve the opposite.

The good news follows the release of the latest tourism arrival figures from Stats SA. It proves that total arrivals are up by 2% and overseas arrivals are up 10%, with Central and South America leading the charge at 90% year-to-date if compared from July last year to July this year.

Brazil arrivals continue to grow exponentially with a year-to-date increase of 119%, as 17,524 arrivals in 2016 increased to 38,460 arrivals in 2017. Argentina isn’t far behind Brazil, at an 89% year-to-date increase and a 71% month-to-month increase. While Mexico has shown a 42% year-to-date increase.

Tourism Update reports that Europe saw an overall year-to-date increase of 10%. France, Spain, Germany and The Netherlands continue their year-long trend of growth, coming in at 31%, 19%, 15% and 12% year-to-date growth a piece. France went from 80,368 arrivals in 2016 to 105,494 arrivals in 2017. While Spain displayed a 16% month-to-month increase and Germany went from 155,371 arrivals in 2016 to 178,328 arrivals in 2017. Other notable European countries are Austria which grew 20% both month-to-month and year-to-date, and Sweden which grew 16% year-to-date.

North America increased by 8% year-to-date, but decreased by 1% month-to-month. The USA went from 199,853 arrivals in 2016 to 215,680 arrivals in 2017.

But it is not all good news. Canada decreased 10% month-to-month and only increased by 7% year-to-date. Ireland arrivals also continue to nosedive, showing 38% year-to-date decrease, with just over 6,000 fewer arrivals occurring in 2017 compared with 2016. New Zealand and Iran also saw a 23% year-to-date decrease, while China dropped a further 16%.

This website reported earlier this year that visa bugger-ups in several source markets can be blamed for some of the declines. Arrivals from New Zealand had taken a nosedive in the first six months of 2017 because of new visa requirements, while arrivals from Nigeria were being seriously constrained by a backlog of visa applications.

It is estimated that around 13,000 potential tourists to South Africa were turned away from South Africa at foreign airports last year because they were not in possession of correct documentation to enter the country.

At the time Beverley Schäfer, the DA’s Western Cape Spokesperson on Economic Opportunities, Tourism, and Agriculture said South Africa’s visa requirements for foreign tourists and the necessity for an unabridged birth certificate (UBC) was hampering growth in South Africa’s tourism sector.

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