The National Department of Tourism recently released its latest series of the State of Tourism Report. The report aims to inform government, industry decision makers and businesses about the performance of the Travel and Tourism sector. It also provides a holistic view of the sector’s operating environment, whilst taking into account challenges and opportunities associated with external factors affecting the sector and country.

In this and the following few newsletter editions we focus our attention on unpacking and discussing the report. This week we take a closer look at a key section of the report that focusses on South Africa’s Tourism Demand Performance with specific reference to its international markets. We also identify key destination marketing trends and opportunities to consider when planning for 2018:

  • With reference to the South African Tourism Annual Report, South Africa has seen a dramatic improvement in international arrivals, reflecting a growth of 12.8% in 2016 compared to 2015. This growth led to South Africa receiving a record-breaking 10 million international tourist arrivals during this period. In terms of top international source markets by arrivals, the UK (447 840) and the USA (345 013) remain the driving forces in volumes generated. It was also positive to note that the Chinese market (including Hong Kong) market (117 144) showed an increase of 38.0% in 2016.
  • In terms of international tourists demographics, there more males (55.7%) travelling to South Africa than females (44.3%), suggesting a slightly biased market. The report emphasizes that a big opportunity exits to attract more female tourists to South Africa, and that South Africa should tap into the ‘’female solo traveller’’ market sooner rather than later. Also interesting to note, 89.5% of tourists travelling to South Africa were aged between 15 – 64, with 5.5% under the age of 15 years, and 4.9% above the age of 65 years. There was also a 45.8% increase of millennial tourists aged between 18 – 34 years of age. Here also lies an opportunity to add more authentic value to experiences, driven by sociability, inclusivity and diversity with social circles.
  • In terms of the main reasons international tourists visited South Africa in 2015-2016 were to visit friends and relatives (37.4%), holiday (16.5%), shopping (11.2%) and business (11.4%). Also, the share of arrivals of tourists who travelled for business purposes went up by 18.7% in 2014 to 23.8% in 2015. This highlights that South Africa is playing an increasing role as a trade and business destination.
  • In terms of spending, international tourist markets direct spend was R68.2bn in 2015, which was 6.2% more compared to 2014. About 48% of that expenditure was contributed by the African land market, showing the critical role the SADC market plays in South Africa’s economy. This report also notes that the European market must be further exploited as it increases its foothold as a major contributor to tourism revenue for South Africa, contributing about 27% to total spend in 2015 (compared to about 26% in 2014). The average expenditure for an international tourist arrival in South Africa was R830 per day during 2015. Air-bound markets show a much higher average spend per day, with African air markets spending an average of R1260, the Americas R1230, Europe R1040, and Asia and Australia R1000; while the African land market only spends R660 per day on average. Here lies an opportunity to grow this spend and market goods/products and services exclusively tailored for the African land market
  • In terms of international tourist experiences in 2015, about 36.1% of tourists indicated that they had a positive experience in visiting friends and relatives, whereas 35.4% experienced the same in hospitality and friendly people. However, 5.7% had a good experience in culture and heritage, while 9.2% had a good experience in wildlife game parks. There were also limited negative experiences recorded that indicated the majority (82.6%) of international tourists had no bad experiences. This emphasizes the important role (as the Tourism Safety Initiative alongside private and public sector stakeholders) to change the often false negative perception that South Africa is an unsafe destination.
    Click here to view the State of Tourism Report 2015/16

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