While the Western Cape’s tourism sector has shown significant growth, making the sector a billion rand business, total tourist arrivals into the rest of South Africa showed sluggish growth at best.
Tourism in the Western Cape showed a 7,5% increase between the fourth quarter of 2016 and the fourth quarter of 2017, bringing R6,6 billion (€445,6 million) into the provincial economy and creating 25 758 jobs since 2013. These latest statistics were revealed by the Department of Economic Development and Tourism, Wesgro, South African Tourism (SAT), and Airbnb during a meeting of the Standing Committee on Economic Opportunities, Tourism, and Agriculture at the Western Came Provincial Parliament.
Meanwhile TourismUpdate.co.za reports national tourism statistics showed almost stagnant growth. Statistics released by StatsSA shows a 6% increase in overall tourism activities in January 2018, from 1,040,534 in January 2017 compared with 1,103,940 in January 2018. In January 2018, there were 244,657 overseas arrivals recorded, showing a slight decline of 0,2% from January 2017.
In terms of SA’s top source markets, Brazil showed the biggest increase in arrivals – a 24% increase – from 6 114 arrivals in January 2017 to 7 558 in January 2018. This was followed by India at 13%, from 6 293 in January 2017 to 7 115 for the same month in 2018.
The biggest decline was China with a 46% drop in arrivals from 12 066 in January 2017 to 6 505 in January this year, knocking it out of the top ten source markets for SA.
In the Western Cape tourism is continuing to create jobs. TourismUpdate quotes Beverley Schäfer, MPP and Western Cape Spokesperson on Economic Opportunities, Tourism, and Agriculture, who said the increase in tourism to the province is proof of the real impact Project Khulisa is having on job creation and economic growth in the province despite drought, a stronger rand, crime, outbreaks of listeriosis, and avian flu.
The Western Cape tourism sector is also responsible for 24 direct international air connections to Cape Town, bringing in 700 000 inbound seats from 20 countries. As a result, the South African government is investing R3,2 billion (€216 million) into the expansion of Cape Town International Airport.
“Tourism is no longer a burgeoning industry, but a big business in the Western Cape worth billions of rand, and presenting immense job-creation potential,” comments Schäfer.
Despite these successes, Schäfer says she is still concerned that the current government continues to hamper tourism growth through Home Affairs’ restrictive and underdeveloped visa process for international visitors from key markets such as China and India, and a clear lack of will to tackle crime which deters tourists from visiting SA’s shores.
The number of tourists visiting South Africa in January 2018, in terms of quantity, from the top ten countries are as follows: the UK (48 663), Germany (35 434), the US (23 454), France (15 681), The Netherlands (13 665), Australia (8 871), Sweden (7 898), Brazil (7 558), India (7 115), and Switzerland (6 696).
Comparing movements among the ten leading countries between January 2017 and January 2018 showedthat the number of tourists increased for eight of the ten leading countries – Brazil, India, Sweden, Germany, Switzerland, Australia, the UK and US; however France and The Netherlands showed a decline.
Arrivals from The Netherlands declined by 5%, with 14 346 arrivals in January 2017 compared with 13 665 in January 2018.
Europe, North America, Central and South America grew by 2%, 0,3% and 22% respectively. Australasia, the Middle East and Asia showed a decline in arrivals, dropping by 2%, 3% and 20% respectively.