File photo: Tourism Minister Derek Hanekom. Picture: Courtney Africa

Durban - International tourism in South Africa had done spectacularly well surpassing all expectations, Tourism Minister Derek Hanekom said on Sunday.

“No one expected this kind of incredible growth and recovery,” he said before annual Lilizela Tourism Awards for Excellence at the Sandton Convention Centre in Johannesburg.

International arrivals in the first seven months of the year have increased more than 20 percent compared with the average global growth of 4.4 percent, he said.

The growth of tourists from China was 65 percent, from India 35 percent and there had been a 20 percent from both Germany and the US.

Of the 7 million international tourists who had arrived in the country, 3 million came from Botswana, Zimbabwe, Mozambique, while travellers from the “Rest of Africa” were greater than from the SADC countries, the minister said.

The increased figures are a result of a combination of factors, including the ending of the negative impact of ebola - despite South Africa not having a single case - favourable exchange rate and increased marketing.

Six KZN tourism businesses picked up awards, while the minister’s own coveted award went to Esther Mahlangu of Mpumalanga who has elevated Ndebele culture on the global stage.

Daily News