South Africa’s tourism industry is experiencing a robust recovery, witnessing a substantial increase in tourist arrivals during the first half of 2023. According to the latest data from Statistics South Africa, more than 4 million tourists visited the country between January and June 2023. This represents a remarkable 78.2% surge compared to the same period in 2022, when 2.3 million tourists arrived in the nation.
Despite this impressive growth, the current numbers indicate that the tourism sector is still operating at 80% of its pre-pandemic capacity. To put it into perspective, in 2019, South Africa welcomed over 5 million tourists between January and June, indicating there is still room for further recovery.
The African continent remains the most significant source of tourists for South Africa, with 3,083,583 visitors arriving from other African countries during the first half of 2023. This marks an impressive 79.9% increase from the previous year when 1,714,501 visitors arrived from the region. Notably, land arrivals from Africa saw an 81.6% increase, while air arrivals recorded a growth of 44.5% during the same period.
In response to these figures, tourism authorities expressed their satisfaction with the number of visitors coming from the rest of the African continent. The growth is attributed to effective marketing efforts aimed at attracting tourists from the region. Africa continues to be a vital source market for South Africa, and the country is committed to collaborating with the tourism sector to cater to the needs and preferences of visitors from this region.
Apart from Africa, South Africa has experienced an increase in tourists from other regions as well. Notably, the Australasia region, comprising mainly Australia and New Zealand, recorded an astounding growth of 141%, with 50,882 visitors arriving in the first half of 2023, compared to 21,108 arrivals during the same period last year.
The Asia region also witnessed a significant surge of 99.5% with 95,596 visitors between January and June 2023, up from 47,912 visitors during the same period in 2022. Additionally, Europe, the largest source of visitors outside Africa, showed solid growth of 66.8%, welcoming 594,388 visitors in the first half of 2023, compared to 356,352 visitors in the same period the previous year.
Tourist arrivals from North America, Central & South America, and the Middle East also demonstrated substantial growth trends, with rates of 70.6%, 74.4%, and 75.8%, respectively.
These encouraging figures underscore South Africa’s allure and attractiveness as a tourist destination. The increase in visitors from Australasia and Asia further confirms the global trend towards post-pandemic travel recovery. The flourishing tourism sector significantly contributes to the country’s economy and showcases South Africa’s unique landscapes, rich cultural heritage, and diverse wildlife.
The success of South Africa’s Tourism Sector Recovery Plan is evident in the sustained and accelerated economic growth it has generated. Authorities remain optimistic about the future, with a determination to surpass pre-COVID-19 arrival numbers. The country proudly welcomes tourists from across Africa and the globe to experience its diverse cultures and heritage.
In a recent accolade, South Africa was honored by readers of the UK’s Telegraph Travel publication, receiving the prestigious title of “Best Country.” Furthermore, its iconic city, Cape Town, was bestowed with the coveted title of “Best City in the World.”
The South African government and tourism authorities extend their heartfelt gratitude to all travelers who have chosen to explore their country. The unwavering support of both domestic and international tourists has played a pivotal role in revitalizing the economy and restoring vibrancy to the tourism sector. They also express their appreciation to the tourism private sector for their hard work in promoting South Africa as a must-see destination and for their exceptional hospitality in welcoming and hosting visitors.
As South Africa continues to recover and thrive, the country stands ready to embrace visitors from all corners of the world and share its unparalleled wonders with the global community.