Tourist arrivals in South Africa increased by an overall 10.5 percent year-on-year during the first quarter of 2012, Tourism Minister Marthinus Van Schalkwyk said on Monday.

Overseas arrivals rose by 18 percent, he said in a speech prepared for delivery.

In the second quarter of 2012, the total income for accommodation in the country climbed by 11.2 percent.

He said South Africa had outpaced the growth of all competitor locations in the leisure arrivals category.

Foreign direct spend in rand terms had grown faster than arrivals, with an 11 percent per-annum growth rate.

In the 2010/11 World Economic Forum Global Competitive report, South Africa was ranked 54th overall.

“And we remain the highest ranked country in sub-Saharan Africa”, said Van Schalkwyk.

“In the near term, we remain cautiously optimistic about growth in international arrivals.”

He said South Africa's reputation as a premier global leisure destination was firmly established.

“We are growing steadily and have taken lessons from the economic downturn.” -Sapa