South Africa is experiencing a resurgence in international travel, marking a significant stride in the recovery of its tourism sector.
Tourism Minister Patricia de Lille, in her recent address at the launch of the 2023 Tourism Summer Campaign in the Eastern Cape province, shared optimistic figures and trends, reflecting a promising revival in both international and domestic tourism.
International Tourism Boom
From January to July 2023, South Africa welcomed a staggering 4.8 million international tourists, representing a substantial 70.6 percent increase compared to the same period in 2022. This robust comeback is a beacon of hope for the nation’s tourism industry, which has faced unprecedented challenges during the COVID-19 pandemic. However, de Lille noted that despite the encouraging resurgence, the figures are still 19.0 percent below the pre-pandemic levels of 2019.
The African region contributed the largest share to the international arrivals, with Europe also playing a pivotal role, accounting for 14.3 percent of the total arrivals. This diverse influx of tourists is a testament to South Africa’s universal appeal and its ability to attract visitors from different parts of the world.
Domestic Tourism Resilience
In the first half of 2023, South Africans embarked on 18.8 million domestic overnight trips, a 23.4 percent increase from the same period in 2022. The overnight spend also saw a rise of 21.2 percent, reaching 52.2 billion rand (approximately 2.8 billion U.S. dollars). During the peak of the pandemic, with international travel severely restricted due to global travel bans, domestic tourism became the lifeline for South Africa’s tourism sector. De Lille expressed her gratitude to local travelers for exploring the country and supporting the industry when international tourism was at a standstill.
Minister de Lille extended heartfelt thanks to local travelers for their support during the challenging times and emphasized the crucial role of domestic tourism in sustaining the industry amidst international travel restrictions. The resilience and support of local tourists have been instrumental in keeping the sector afloat, allowing South Africa to maintain its vibrant and diverse tourism offerings.
The robust comeback of international travel to South Africa is a promising sign of the tourism sector’s ongoing recovery. The significant increase in both international and domestic tourism is a reflection of the country’s enduring appeal and the resilience of its tourism industry. As South Africa continues to navigate through the post-pandemic landscape, the resurgence in tourism brings hope and optimism for the future of this vibrant and culturally rich nation.