Patricia De Lille
South Africa is known for its amazing tourism offerings that beguile many visitors to our shores, and leave them wanting more. Our country is regarded as one of the most diverse and enchanting places in the world.
Visitors can go almost anywhere in the country and experience the ultimate combination of nature, wildlife, culture, adventure and heritage.
While the Covid-19 pandemic had dampened the number of international tourist arrivals, the reawakening of global travel has seen a strong increase of tourists to our country.
Our arrival numbers for the year are on an upward trend, with more than four million tourists visiting the country in the first half of 2023.
This is a significant increase from the 2.3 million tourist arrivals between January and June 2022.
There has also been a substantial increase across all regions, with Africa continuing to bring the largest share of arrivals – 3 083 583. Beyond Africa, Europe is the largest source of visitors, growing by 66.8% to 594 388 visitors.
This affirms South Africa as a favourite tourist destination.
Moreover, the country was recently honoured by readers of the UK’s Telegraph Travel publication, with the prestigious title of Best Country.
Cape Town claimed the coveted title of Best City in the World.
Last month, travel site Big Travel 7 released a list of their top 50 beaches and South Africa's Boulders Beach in Cape Town known for its pristine waters and penguins that nest in the area, made it to number 32.
The encouraging growth in the tourism sector is reason for optimism, and the sector is key to boosting economic growth and job creation. All of us can be ambassadors for our country, and the government calls on everyone to promote the many tourist offerings we have.
This past month, we launched the Summer Campaign before our peak tourism season, signalling to all tourists, local and international, that we are ready to welcome them to the most beautiful country in the world.
Throughout the length and breadth of South Africa, there are many hidden gems and a diverse list of experiences for any kind of traveller.
The interaction of tourists with South Africans and our country’s sports, culture, history, natural heritage and bio-diversity makes a visit to the country a memorable experience.
In preparation for a buoyant summer tourism season, the government has made tourism safety a priority, with the National Tourism Safety Forum overseeing the safety of tourists.
It includes the deployment of tourism monitors to all provinces at top tourist attractions and national parks.
The monitors will be deployed towards the end of October to early November 2023.
They will be responsible to help tourists, provide safety information and report any incidents of crime to the police.
South Africans themselves are encouraged to explore the wealth of tourism opportunities in the country.
This will build national pride and fosters a better understanding of the country’s diversity and its people.
We are promoting local tourism through our Sho’t Left campaign, which offers discounts to local travellers under various categories such as “city breaks” and “budget” offers across various provinces.
The impact of domestic tourism on our economy cannot be underestimated. As South Africans, each journey we embark upon within our country has a ripple effect on various industries. It sustains our hotels, lodges, restaurants and countless small businesses that rely on our patronage.
We also thank the many men and women at our airports, tour guides, at restaurants, tourist sites and establishments for their hard work to provide visitors with an authentic South African experience.
De Lille is the minister of tourism in South Africa