South Africa's tourism is back! StatsSA reports a stunning 46.5 percent surge in foreign arrivals

Published Jul 25, 2023


After the devastating effect of the Covid-19 pandemic, tourism to South Africa is back on track, according to the latest data from StatsSA.

The tourism and migration statistics for June 2023 released today shows that he volume of arrivals, departures and travellers in transit increased for both South African residents and foreign travellers between June 2022 and June 2023.

For South African residents, the volume of arrivals increased by 265,364 in June 2022 to 316,628 in June 2023 (19.3%), departures increased by 330,327 in June 2022 to 384,972 June 2023 (16.5%) and transits increased from 305 in June 2022 to 389 in June 2023, (27.5%).

For foreign travellers, arrivals increased by 46.5% (from 581,375 in June 2022 to 851,647 in June 2023), departures increased by 44.3% (from 503,997 in June 2022 to 727,207 in June 2023) and transits increased by 24.8% (from 24,624 in June 2022 to 30,730 in June 2023).

South Africa, a country of diverse landscapes, rich history, and vibrant culture, has long been a magnet for tourists from around the globe.

The allure of its wildlife, the warmth of its people, and the rhythm of its cities have drawn millions to its shores, but was disrupted when the world shut down in 2020 as the Covid-19 virus shut cross-border travel.

These new figures show that destination South Africa is on the comeback and testament to South Africa's enduring appeal.

The data also provides a breakdown of tourists by their country of residence. Europe, a region that has long held a fascination with South Africa, saw a 26.7% increase in tourists.

Notably, France and Italy led the European charge with a 56.1% and 60.3% increase, respectively, underscoring the country’s allure in the European imagination.

These numbers reflect the deepening ties between South Africa and Europe, a relationship forged in shared history and mutual fascination.

North America, too, demonstrated a growing interest in South Africa, with a 37% increase in tourists.

The US, in particular, showed a 35.6% increase, reflecting the country's growing fascination with South Africa's unique blend of wildlife, culture, and adventure.

The report also delves into the purpose of these visits. The holiday category, which includes tourists visiting for vacation, visiting friends and relatives, shopping, and other personal reasons, is the most prominent.

However, according to StatsSA, discussions are under way to further break down this category, separating vacation and shopping for a clearer understanding of tourists' motivations.

This move will provide a more nuanced understanding of why tourists choose South Africa as their destination, allowing the tourism industry to better cater to their needs and preferences.

The document also provides insights into the limitations of the data, primarily around outbound tourists.

The data on the total number of arrivals and departures of South African residents is collected from passport scans, but information on the country visited, intended duration of stay, and purpose of visit is not collected.

This limitation, StatsSA says, makes it challenging to identify the number of tourists from the data on South African residents.

Despite this limitation, the data provides a valuable snapshot of South Africa's tourism landscape, offering insights into the trends and patterns that shape the industry.

The report also provides a detailed definition of terms used in the tourism industry, offering clarity and context to the data.

For instance, it defines a traveller as someone who moves between different geographical locations for any purpose and any duration. A visitor, on the other hand, refers to any person travelling to a place other than that of his/her usual environment for less than 12 months and whose main purpose of the trip is other than the exercise of an activity remunerated from within the place visited.

These definitions provide a framework for understanding the data, ensuring that the information is interpreted accurately and consistently.

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