All the way up for SA tourism
Tourism remains key to South Africa’s economic development strategy and the substantial growth in tourist arrivals is testament to how dedication to marketing ‘destination SA’ is paying off.
Tourist arrival figures have gone up by 14.8% this year compared to the same period in 2015, Environmental Affairs Minister Edna Molewa said on Tuesday. She was chairing the International Cooperation, Trade and Security Cluster briefing to give an update on the bloc’s Programme of Action (PoA) towards achieving the goals of the National Development Plan (NDP).
“Marketing South Africa as a premier domestic and international tourist destination has been central to our economic diplomacy efforts,” Minister Molewa said in Pretoria.
The improvement in tourism statistics has been attributed to the work of the country’s more than 120 missions, which include South Africa’s embassies, high commissions and consulate generals, who worked together with Brand South Africa to improve the tourism arrival figures. Statistics from the Department of Tourism in September showed that 822 416 tourist arrivals were recorded for July 2016, up by 89 525 tourist compared to the same month of the previous year.
There was an increase of 131 002 tourists in July 2016 compared to the same month in 2015. This brings the total tourist arrivals for the period January-July 2016 to 5 791 504, which is an increase of 751 388 compared to the same period of the previous year.
Minister Molewa said the growth in tourism was due in part to innovative marketing strategies and the tourism incentives that were given to small business. The operational environment for tourism has also improved. “We have had an improvement of economic diplomacy, regional integration, peacekeeping and building resilience in our country’s economy,” Minister Molewa said.
She said it was encouraging that during the first months of 2016, about R39.3 billion in foreign direct spend in South Africa was achieved. “The realisation of this kind of revenue sustains the local tourism economy. It also indicates that our country remains a popular destination for tourists inside South Africa, from the region and globally.”
South Africa’s economic diplomacy remains central to attracting investment, creating jobs, and growing and transforming the economy. The country continues to accelerate its economic diplomacy efforts at a regional, continental and global level by creating new trade opportunities, increasing investment in regional, continental and global markets, and overall deepening economic ties with both new and established trade partners.
Minister Molewa said South Africa has enhanced its visibility on national and international trade, investment promotion and tourism platforms. “This has yielded real and tangible results. For example, sales of manufactured value-added exports have increased by R1.2 billion, bringing the cumulative total for the year to R 3.8 billion. One of our priorities is to achieve a number of bilateral and multilateral agreements through which we will promote, facilitate and host meetings with potential investors; as well as engaging with various Chambers of Commerce,” Minister Molewa said.