Open letter to South Africa’s students‚ universities and government‚ represented by Minister in the .
South African tourism statistics for last year show a 14,5 percent increase in tourism arrivals compared with 2005 figures, Tourism Minister Marthinus van Schalkwyk said yesterday.
"What we have achieved together is reflected in the exponential growth of South Africa's tourism industry since our transition to democracy in 1994," Van Schalkwyk told delegates at the African Business Tourism Conference.
According to the statistics, South Africa had 765,675 more visitors in the first nine months of last year than in the first nine months of 2005.
"More than six million people visited South Africa between January and September last year, suggesting that we are well on track to surpass the yearly record that we set last year," Van Schalkwyk said.
The largest source of growth was from Africa, with an increase of 18,3 percent in arrivals from the African continent.
Van Schalkwyk said that there was also strong growth in arrivals from the US, with an increase of 9,7 percent, which represented almost 20000 more visitors. There was also a "massive" 42,4percent increase in visitors from the Russian Federation, he said.
Van Schalkwyk said that this showed that South Africa was successful at achieving broader market penetration on the European continent.
He said that South Africa had also achieved a 4,5 percent increase in arrivals from Asia, with 17,5 percent more visitors from India and "excellent growth" in those from Japan, Thailand and Singapore.
However, arrivals from China, Malaysia and the Phillipines decreased.
Van Schalkwyk said growth in South African and sub-Saharan African tourism was driving overwhelmingly positive tourism performance on the continent.
"Over the past two years Africa achieved the fastest growth rates of any major region in the world."
But Van Schalkwyk said that South Africa's business tourism sector still needed attention.
"On average, business travellers spend three times more than leisure travellers and up to 40 percent of business travellers return to a destination within five years," he said.
Business tourists currently make up 5percent of South Africa's total tourism market, he said. - Sapa