South Africa’s tourism industry has announced that they built on the momentum achieved during a record-breaking 2010, by growing a further 3.3% and attracting 8,339,354 international tourists in 2011.
The official 2011 tourism statistics were released by South Africa’s Minister of Tourism, Marthinus van Schalkwyk, who said that despite tough global economic conditions South Africa’s tourist arrivals had surpassed the 8,073, 552 mark it reached when recording 15.1% growth in 2010, on the back of the country’s successful hosting of the 2010 FIFA World Cup.
“I’m delighted to say that the hard work by all in the tourism industry, both in the public and private sector, has paid off as we recorded a 3.3% increase in our 2011 international tourist arrivals figures. If you exclude the nearly 310 000 people who travelled specifically for the FIFA World Cup, then actual growth in 2011 was 7.4 percent, above the rate of global growth of 4.4%. We are therefore extremely happy with the 2011 tourist statistics and optimistic about the potential for future growth in South Africa’s tourism industry,” Minister van Schalkwyk added.
While South Africa’s core markets in Europe and North America remain our major source of long-haul tourists, the country’s overall growth in 2011 was largely due to a 14.6% growth in the emerging markets of Asia (driven by growth of 24.3% from China and 26.2% by India in 2011). Tourist numbers were also up thanks to a 6.9% increase in tourist arrivals from regional Africa continent (with growth of 37.5% from Nigeria).
European tourist arrivals declined by 3.5%, due largely to the ongoing impact of the global economic crisis in many countries in Europe, while North American numbers grew by 2.3%, despite the continent also facing major economic challenges. If World Cup numbers are excluded, growth would have been 2.4% for Europe, 13.7% for North America, 26.3% for Asia and 9.1% for Africa in 2011.
The USA was one of the countries that saw the most fans travelling to the 2010 FIFA World Cup, with a 22.6 percent increase in U.S. arrivals to South Africa in 2010 as over 30,000 U.S. fans travelled for the tournament alone. And we are extremely happy that South Africa saw further growth out of the USA market in 2011, with a 1.9% increase in tourist arrivals seeing 287,614 U.S. tourists travel to South Africa in total in 2011.
“Although there is good reason for optimism for the South African tourism industry the economic climate remains difficult and competition for tourist arrivals fierce. For South Africa to maintain its tourism arrivals we need to see a collective, robust approach by all in the industry to keep South Africa on its current growth trajectory.
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