According to the latest figures released by Statistics SA year to date total arrivals and overseas arrivals are also up 17% on last year’s figures. The statistics show South Africa’s key source markets all experienced growth in February, with arrivals from the US, UK and Germany up by 16%, 15%, and 22%, respectively year to date. Arrivals from China have experienced growth of 72%, while India saw an increase of 22% in arrivals.
Yet tourism experts say this is not as good as it seems. While arrivals are showing impressive growth on 2015’s figures, Satsa CEO, David Frost, points out that year-to-date overseas arrivals this year are only 6% higher than in 2014.
He is quoted by TourismUpdate.co.za as saying “it shows we’re only now getting ahead of the levels of two years ago.” He says SA should be achieving double-digit growth by now.
According to Frost, the key factor for promoting growth is ease of access, of which he says the largest component is the visa regime which was muddle by government for several months. “The locus of competitiveness has shifted from the size of your destination marketing organisation’s tourism budget to what can you do to make it easier to come to your country,” says Frost.
Meanwhile the Department of Home Affairs (DHA) has dismissed allegations that its contract with Visa Facilitation Service (VFS) Global benefited Duduzane Zuma and Rajesh Gupta, also denying there is a link between VSF Global and Islandsite Investments, the company whose directors include Gupta and Zuma.
The Democratic Alliance’s Haniff Hoosen questioned why a Gupta-directed company was issuing receipts for people applying for visas through VFS Global. He claimed that Home Affairs had appointed VFS Global to handle South African visa operations but receipts were being issued by a company called Islandsite Investments. “Minister Gigaba manufactures new permits and the Guptas rake in the cash,” he said, also questioning what Minister Malusi Gigaba’s role had been in the appointment of VFS.