File picture: Mujahid Safodien/AP
File picture: Mujahid Safodien/AP

OR Tambo Airport busiest SA border post

By Helmo Preuss Time of article published Jan 21, 2019

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JOHANNESBURG – OR Tambo International Airport was the busiest border post during the Festive Season period of December 1 to January 15, with almost a million people at 997 167, Home Affairs Minister Siyabonga Cwele told a media briefing yesterday.

The busiest land border was that between South Africa and Zimbabwe, with 884 992, followed by the border post between South Africa and Mozambique at Lebombo with 625 975. 

The two border posts between South Africa and Lesotho collectively exceeded that of Beit Bridge with Ficksburg Bridge processing 471 474 and Maseru Bridge 428 038.

Overall movements were up only 0.6 percent to 6 852 972, compared with the same period in the previous festive season, showing that the easier visa requirements have yet to make an impact on tourism. 

The top nationalities cleared at the ports of entry over this period were from Lesotho, Zimbabwe, Mozambique, Swaziland, Botswana, the UK, Germany, the US, Namibia and Zambia.

The release of the Tourism 2017 report by Statistics South Africa showed that tourism growth slowed to only 2.4 percent in 2017 from 12.8 percent in 2016, which was below the global growth rate of 7 percent in 2017 as compiled by the UN World Tourist Organisation. 

The bad news is that this slowing in tourist arrivals growth continued into 2018 with the number of tourists visiting South Africa falling by 2.1 percent year-on-year in October to 862 046. 

In the first 10 months of 2018, the number of tourists from overseas countries decreased by 1.6 percent year-on-year, those from Southern African Development Community (SADC) countries increased by 2.9 percent year-on-year and the number of tourists from non-SADC African countries increased by 0.4 percent year-on-year.

The 2017 South African growth came largely from overseas countries, where the number of tourists increased by 7.2 percent to 2.7 million. The promise of a “Look East” policy has failed to materialise as foreign tourists from Asia showed a 3.3 percent decline with tourists from China slumping by 17 percent to only 97 069, which is more than a third below the 2013 figure of 151 053. 

The attacks on foreigners in February 2017 hurt our largest market, tourists from the rest of Africa, with minimal growth of only 0.8 percent. The number of tourists from the SADC countries rose by 1 percent to 7.4 million, but “other” African countries showed an 8.2 percent drop, with the largest decline coming from Nigeria, where the number of tourists fell by 22 percent to 50 921 in 2017.

Apart from the tourism data, Minister Cwele highlighted how the department was preparing for this year’s elections, as well as a total revamp of the department to better meet citizens’ needs. The department operated extended hours in the first two weeks of this year so that people could get their identity documents (ID) easier, but there are still almost 300 000 unclaimed IDs.

The department also gazetted a White Paper on Friday that seeks to find sustainable solutions to the challenges the department faces – such as those relating to long queues, staff shortages, infrastructure, office space, connectivity and networks.

The public have until February 18 to submit written comment on the paper.


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