A total of 9 188 368 international tourists visited South Africa in 2012, 10.2% more than the 8 339 354 tourists who travelled to the country in 2011, President Jacob Zuma announced in Cape Town today.
South Africa’s tourist growth rate in 2012 was more than double the rate of average global tourist growth of about 4% estimated by the United Nations World Tourism Organisation in 2012.
South Africa saw particularly good overseas tourist growth (tourists from outside of the African continent), which grew by 15.1%, one of the highest growth rates in the world last year.
Europe remained the highest source of overseas tourists to South Africa, growing by 9.5% on 2011 figures and attracting a total of 1 396 978 tourists to the country last year – more than half the total number of overseas tourists.
The United Kingdom continues to be South Africa’s biggest overseas tourism market, with 438 023 UK tourists travelling to South Africa in 2012 (4.2% up on 2011 figures). The United States is South Africa’s second biggest overseas tourism market, with 326 643 tourists from the USA visiting in 2012 (up 13.6% on 2011 figures), with Germany the third biggest overseas market with 266 333 tourists (up 13% on 2011 figures). China has become South Africa’s fourth biggest overseas tourism market, 132 334 (up 55.9% on 2011 figures), with France now South Africa’s fifth biggest overseas tourism market with 122 244 tourists in 2012 (up 16% on 2011 figures).
Particularly strong growth was recorded in 2012 from Asia (up 33.7% on the figures recorded in 2011), driven by growth from China and India, and Central and South America (up 37.0%), thanks to continued good tourist growth out of Brazil.
“We are extremely happy with our tourist arrivals figures for 2012 and our continued tourism growth from all regions. This phenomenal tourism growth is evidence that we are successfully setting ourselves apart in a competitive marketplace and that South Africa’s reputation as a friendly, welcoming, inspiring and unique tourism destination continues to grow,” said President Zuma, when announcing the 2012 international tourism statistics at a media briefing at the Victoria and Alfred Waterfront today.
President Zuma said that the 2012 tourist growth figures confirmed that the country’s tourism marketing efforts were on track, backed by a strong, professional tourism industry that offered a wide variety of tourist offerings to suit every experience and every budget.