Chairperson, South Africa consists of a tapestry of interwoven cultures, and the world’s eyes have opened up like never before to the beauty, diversity of experiences and the endless possibilities our country has to offer. In 1993, South Africa received a mere 3,4 million foreign visitors. However, growing by 300% to 13,5 million visitors in 2012, 9,2 million of whom were tourists, South Africa is continuing to entrench its status as a major international tourist and business events destination. These results demonstrate the effectiveness of our economic diplomacy, underpinned by a sound foreign policy. They also indicate our systematic investment as the National Department of Tourism (NDT) in policy and strategy development and implementation.
We are driving double-digit growth, as we received 10,2% more tourists in 2012,when 9,2 million international tourists visited South African shores compared to the 8,3 million tourists who travelled to our country in 2011. South Africa’s tourist growth rate in 2012 was more than double the rate of average global tourist growth, which the United Nations World Tourism Organisation estimated at about 4%.
A few years ago, we made the strategic decision to invest in the emerging markets on our continent, in South America and in Asia. The results in these markets were astounding. Arrivals from our continent have maintained the solid growth path to which we have become accustomed, with growth of 8,5%. In light of this, we will invest R218 million over a three-year period to grow our share of this market even further. We will also be opening offices in Nigeria, Angola and Kenya in this financial year, and will expand our footprint to Ghana, Tanzania and Uganda through a hub strategy.