What’s the state of tourism growth in SA?

2016-01-28 12:28 - Selene Brophy
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Cape Town -  Stats SA has release the 2015 arrival stats, with yo-yo figures not showing the best  picture when it comes to overseas visitors to South Africa.

Overseas arrivals in November showed a 6% month on month increase but overall the figures are down 7% when compared to the same period in 2014 and are in fact down 8% year to date. The US and Germany saw the biggest growth while the UK dipped by 2%

SA had seen the equivalent of 600 000 fewer tourists in 2015

Tourism Update reports Lee-Anne Bac, Director of Grant Thornton Johannesburg, describes the situation as ‘depressing’ as up until the end of November, SA had seen the equivalent of 600 000 fewer tourists in 2015 than in the same period in 2014 – producing very little growth in the last two year, despite mammoth industry efforts.   

But globally 2015 has been presented comprising complex challenges for the tourism industry mixed due to increased safety and security concerns, unusually strong exchange rate fluctuations and the drop in oil prices and other commodities, according to The United Nations World Tourism Organisation (UNWTO)  – yet despite this demand for travel remained positive and resulted in a 4.4% growth in international tourist arrivals in 2015.

Cape Town Tourism reports its first quarter of 2015 was marred by visa regulations and the impact of the Ebola outbreak in West Africa - with only 57% of Cape Town Tourism members surveyed reporting year-on-year (YOY ) growth and 28% citing a stagnant performance.

Cape Town International shows biggest growth since 2016

The city only recovered properly in the peak season between October to December as Cape Town International Airport (CTIA) ended the year with an 8.9% increase in total arrivals YOY.  – the largest increase per annum since 2010 when an increase of 4.9% in total arrivals was recorded.

CTIA’s annual growth compares favourably with that of O.R Tambo (up 5%) and King Shaka (6.5%.)

READ: Western Cape still a winner with travellers

Equally, the province’s top attractions performed well with a number of them reporting record-breaking performances in December.

Groot Constantia finished the year with a 14% increase on 2014’s visitor numbers.

Robben Island and Table Mountain Aerial Cableway have also reported annual YOY growth of 5% and 2%, respectively.


In terms of the accommodation sector overall (accommodation types ranging from backpackers, B&Bs to self-catering and hotels) for Cape Town, the year finished on 0.2% growth in occupancy YOY compared to the 1.7% growth registered in 2014.  

“We are encouraged by Cape Town’s recovery in tourism towards the end of 2015. Although we experienced some record-breaking visitor figures in December, we’re acutely aware that as an industry we must press ahead with innovations and strategies for attracting visitors all year round and not become complacent.

We are looking forward to our international visitor peak months and are cautiously optimistic that the momentum of the past quarter will carry through into the next. Once the Feb and March 2016 figures are in, we’ll be able to see what the full high period international arrival growth was and whether it was strengthened by the factors discussed.” said Enver Duminy, CEO, Cape Town Tourism

“It is interesting to note the shift in profile of international visitors to our shores, where travellers are much younger these days. South Africa is known as an adventure destination, attracting younger and more active international visitors searching for diverse experiences and holidays that are not offered elsewhere. We are encouraged by these visitor numbers that contribute directly to the much-needed creation of jobs," said Councillor Garreth Bloor, Mayoral Committee Member for Tourism, Events and Economic Development.

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