/ 28 November 2007

SA tourism looking healthy

South African Tourism, the agency responsible for marketing the country as a tourist destination, says that tourism has grown steadily every year since the introduction of the Tourism Growth Strategy in 2002.

Chief operating officer Didi Moyle said on Wednesday, in presenting research findings from 2002 to 2006, that there were 35,4-million foreign arrivals in South Africa over the period, and that 23-million of those tourists visited for leisure purposes.

The remainder came to South Africa either to visit friends or relatives, to go shopping (most notably from the Southern African Development Community region), or for business purposes.

Moyle also said that there were more than 10-million long-haul visits to South Africa over the period, and added that there was compound annual growth rate over the period of 6,9%, with 13,9% growth recorded in 2006 (there were 8,4-million tourist arrivals in that year).

“South Africa’s arrival growth eclipsed that of the global industry, which recorded only 4,5% growth in 2006,” said Moyle.

Moyle also said there was a more than 9% increase in total foreign direct spend (excluding capital expenditure) and while spend per day and per trip grew from Southern African Development Community (SADC) arrivals, it decreased for some of the long-haul markets, including the United Kingdom, France and Germany.

Foreign arrivals contributed R222-billion to the economy between 2003 and 2006, with contributions from SADC land markets comprising more than 60% of that revenue. Domestic tourism contributed a further R16,5-billion to the economy last year.

However, there was, in line with global trends, a decrease in average length of stay by foreign tourists from 9,6 nights on average in 2003 to 8,2 nights per tourist last year.

Moeketsi Mosola, CEO of South African Tourism, said the research confirmed the industry’s significant contribution to the South African economy.

He added that research also gave the industry immensely valuable data to help understand how tourism could contribute to further boost South Africa’s economic growth. — I-Net Bridge