While fewer tourists arrived from major European countries, an increase in the number of tourists from Australia, the US and Germany was reported.
Between September 2017 and February 2018, the number of UK visitors dropped by 13.84%; visitors from France by 11.02%; and Dutch visitors by 13.56%.
Briefing the Western Cape Legislature standing committee on economic opportunities, South African Tourism chief executive Sisa Ntshona said crime had become a more serious problem. Added to that was the limited number of offices dealing with visas in overseas countries.
“The crime issue is really bad and the department is working on ways to address these issues. There has been a drop in Chinese visitors because the country has more than a billion people, but there are only two offices (there) to get a visa. “Crime against Chinese citizens has also affected the market. This issue doesn’t make big news here, but makes big news in China. Our minister is attending to this, but we really have to address this issue. We need the entire government to work, to make tourism a success. You can ask me about any sector and I will tell that tourism is affected by that sector. In India there were also problems with issuing visas. We only have two offices there, in such a large country. If there is a hassle, then people tend to stay away.”
Ntshona said the water crisis had put Cape Town “on the map”.
“Cape Town is such a unique place, it’s almost like visitors see South Africa through the lens of Cape Town. The water crisis has placed the city on the map, but this issue needs to be addressed because it could be disastrous.”
Wesgro chief executive Tim Harris said not all was lost as there were signs of major growth.
“We have seen improvement on many fronts and we managed to build resilience. The water crisis has been a real issue and should the taps have run dry we would have had a massive problem.”
Crime remained a problem.
Beverley Schäfer, chairperson of the committee, said she was still concerned that tourism was hampered by Home Affairs’ “restrictive, outdated, and underdeveloped visa process for international visitors from key markets such as China and India”.
“And there is a clear lack of will to tackle crime.... A successful tourism industry requires an intergovernmental approach to create an enticing and marketable destination.”