South Africa’s tourism industry remains healthy

South Africa’s tourism industry seems to have established a new base of growth from the momentum established during the 2010 World Cup when masses of football fans flocked into the country.

The latest tourism survey captured in the Visa report called Tourism Outlook: South Africa said the country’s positive tourism trend continued in 2011 despite tough global economic conditions.

Mandy Lamb, Visa Country Manager for South Africa said that tourist arrivals to South Africa surpassed 8.3m people in 2011, a rise of 3 percent over 2010.

According to Visa Travel data, in 2011, international visitors spent $2.2 billion on Visa cards in South Africa, a 0.7 percent year on year increase.

“This is particularly impressive and showed South Africa has built on its success as host for the 2010 FIFA World Cup”.

“South Africa remains one of the world’s most popular tourist destinations and we continue to support South Africa’s tourism industry.”

The United Kingdom, United States, Mozambique, Germany, Botswana, Australia, Angola, Namibia, France and Canada) accounted for 67.3 percent of total tourism spend in South Africa.

As in 2010, Visa account holders from the United Kingdom continued to be the largest spenders with receipts totalling $497.4 million – although this was 7.2 percent lower year on year.

“We are seeing the effects of a struggling UK economy at the moment,” noted Lamb.

After the UK, the biggest spenders in SA are, in order, the US ($306.6m), Mozambique ($124.2), Germany ($105.3), Botswana ($97.1m), Australia ($77.4m), Angola ($73.1m), Namibia ($72m), France ($69.4m) and Canada ($64m). Angola however has the largest individual transaction size with $220.53, followed by France at $159.42 and Australia $158.36.

A major contributor to the growth in tourism arrivals was the 14.6 percent increase in the number of tourists from emerging Asian markets.

Visitor arrivals from China and India to South Africa surged in 2011, up 24 percent to 84,883 and 26 percent to 90,367, respectively.

Chinese tourists spent $51.6 million in 2011, 34.4 percent higher year on year. The average transaction was 48.7 percent higher at $449.03.

Lamb said “The world is experiencing growing numbers of Asian tourists thanks to their strong economies, but these impressive results are also testament to the marketing efforts of SA Tourism.”

In 2011 the top three merchant segments for spend mirrored that of the previous year. Visa account holders spent $817.6 million in the ‘Remaining merchants ’ category (up 0.5 percent) which includes spend in banks and ATM withdrawals, $375 million in the ‘Other retail’ segment which includes spend in general retail merchandise such as clothing, confections, wine, antiques and jewellery (up 4.5 percent) and ‘Accommodation’ $278.4 million (down 1.4 percent).


The highest-spending countries in the ‘Remaining merchants’ category were the United Kingdom (down 6.8 percent to $223.7 million), the United States (down 10.5 percent to $105.6) and Germany (up 19.1 percent to $46.5 million).

South Africa is generally busiest during the summer months of November through March. With the local summer school holidays falling during December and January, this is a busy time at seaside resorts with families flocking to the coast.

December 2011 saw the highest value of tourism receipts in South Africa according to VisaVue Travel data, with a 0.7 percent increase in tourism receipts to $223.7 million.

The month of December also accounted for the highest number of transactions at 15 million, up 0.3 percent year on year.

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