Foreign arrival figures buck global trend for 2009 to grow by 3.6% to 9.9-million

{ Posted on Aug 14 2013 by B-man }
Categories : Travel news

South Africa has outperformed most international markets in 2009 and recorded growth in foreign arrivals of 3.6%, says minister of tourism Marthinus van Schalkwyk in a media briefing at South African Tourism's offices in Johannesburg this afternoon.

He says: "This defies the decline of 4% that the global travel industry experienced last year as traveller markets reeled from the effects of the global financial crisis. I believe it strongly reaffirms the vitality of our tourism industry."

The country received a total of 9 933 966 foreign arrivals last year, compared to 9 591 828 in 2008.

"I regard this kind of growth in the context of international conditions as a resounding vote of confidence in our tourism industry and our destination," the minister said.

"Our status as the FIFA 2010 World Cup host nation has undoubtedly played its part in arrivals growth to our destination. However, robust and committed marketing campaigns by our destination marketing organisation, South African Tourism, as well as by our industry have also driven growth. This has been achieved, amongst others through embedding destination awareness and growing the global desire to visit South Africa."

"We cannot deny that as a destination we saw declines in 2009 from some of our key markets in Europe and North America. But I am very encouraged by the signs of recovery that we have begun to see in the figures for December. As a whole the figures for 2009 are a feather in the cap of our entire tourism industry and I trust it will inspire everyone to pull out all the stops and put our special South African touch on the last preparations for the World Cup."

The global tourism industry ended 2009 on a 4% decline in arrivals, according to the United Nations World Tourism Organisation's (UNWTO) January 2010 World Tourism Barometer.

Arrivals growth to South Africa was driven by healthy increases in arrivals from central and South America (3.5% growth), Asia (3.7% growth), Africa air markets (3.3% growth) and Africa land markets (5.7% growth).

The markets that ended the year in arrivals decline had shown recovery by late in the year. The Europe region was down 15.5% year on year in March 2009, but had ended the year on a 4.1% decline in arrivals. North America had recorded a 13.6% decline in March but ended the year on an 8.6% decline.

Arrivals from Africa followed a similar trend. Arrivals from the continent ended the year 5.6% up on 2008 arrivals after recording the lowest growth of the year at 1.5% in March.

The 9.9m foreign visitors that came to South Africa last year represented close on 20% of the 48-million visitors that came to Africa in 2009. Egypt and Uganda were the only other two destinations in Africa to record arrivals growth in 2009.

Van Schalkwyk adds that South African Tourism will intensify its efforts in some of the markets where it believes it can secure a return on investment in Africa. He also expects the new airport in Durban to grow the India market significantly.

South African Tourism and van Schalkwyk congratulated the industry on growth in a year that would be remembered as one of the toughest ever for the global industry. The global financial crisis, H1N1 virus and escalating price of oil took their toll on the market and the industry.

New CEO Thandiwe January-McLean says that South African Tourism has increased its investment in marketing efforts in Angola, China and India, which are expected to deliver arrivals dividends next year.

"Our 2009 arrivals put us tantalisingly close to our 10-million arrivals target this year. We will continue marketing our destination aggressively to embed awareness, stimulate the desire to visit South Africa and ensure that arrivals to South Africa continue to grow ahead of global trends," January-McLean notes.

She also believes that there is a lot more potential in the US market as well as Brazil, which they will look to unlock.

Van Schalkwyk says in addition to the current investigation underway by Grant Thornton into unreasonable price hiking in accommodation prices during the World Cup (believed to only exist in isolated cases), there is another investigation into airport taxes to take place soon by the Department of Trade and Industry. He says there is a real need for transparency in what goes into so-called "airport taxes" and the public deserves to know what they are paying for.

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