from DION HENRICK in Cape Town
Western Cape Bureau
CAPE TOWN, (CAJ News) – TOURISTS visiting South Africa spent more than US$25 billion in the first quarter of 2023.
This comes as the industry emerges from years of the COVID-19 pandemic.
“This is a valuable stream of foreign exchange, sustaining and creating jobs and enabling further investment in our tourism infrastructure,” said President Cyril Ramaphosa.
He was writing in his weekly letter, released on Monday.
Statistics from StatsSA and SA Tourism, released by Tourism Minister Patricia de Lille, recently show that nearly 5,7 million visitors graced local shores last year.
This was an increase of over 150 percent on the previous year.
Ramaphosa said the release of these figures during Africa Month, May, is particularly encouraging given that the majority of visitors to South Africa in 2022, approximately 4 million, were from our continent.
He said travellers from the region and the broader continent were increasingly seeing South Africa as a premier tourism destination and are flocking to experience the country’s natural wonders and to spend money at South African businesses.
The potential of South Africa’s tourism industry was evident at Africa’s Travel Indaba held in eThekwini earlier in May.
It is one of the largest tourism marketing events on the continent and regularly attracts high numbers of exhibitors, marketing bodies and representatives from hotels, airlines and tour operators and media from Africa and the rest of the world.
“We were able to showcase the great variety of our tourism products to give further impetus to our recovery,” Ramaphosa stated.
Of the exhibitors, over 120 were small local tourism enterprises that were supported by the government.
The recovery of South Africa’s aviation sector is also supporting tourism growth.
South African Airways is expanding into ever more markets on the continent. There is the resumption of direct flights from major destinations. Air China has resumed direct flights to South Africa, and United Airlines now flies directly to New York and Washington DC.
“The latest tourism figures are very encouraging and should strengthen our resolve to ensure that tourism becomes one of the biggest drivers of our economic recovery,” Ramaphosa concluded.
– CAJ News