Tourist arrivals fell by a third in March compared with February as the spread of the Covid-19 pandemic intensified around the world and South Africa implemented travel restrictions. Picture: Henk Kruger/ANA/African News Agency
Tourist arrivals fell by a third in March compared with February as the spread of the Covid-19 pandemic intensified around the world and South Africa implemented travel restrictions. Picture: Henk Kruger/ANA/African News Agency

Statistics confirm major drop in tourism figures as SA lockdown began

By Mwangi Githathu Time of article published Jun 18, 2020

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Cape Town - Tourist arrivals fell by a third in March compared with February as the spread of the Covid-19 pandemic intensified around the world and South Africa implemented travel restrictions, according to the latest tourism statistics.

Statistician-general Risenga Maluleke said: “Tourist arrivals in March fell by 36.2% year-on-year (y/y) and 33% month-on-month. Overseas tourist arrivals fell even more, by 53.4% y/y with arrivals from Europe and Asia down 75% and 71%, respectively.”

The statistics cover data collected by Department of Home Affairs officials on travellers who departed from or entered the country.

Maluleke said: “In March, 2.3 million travellers, including arrivals, departures, and transits, passed through South Africa’s ports of entry/exit.

“They were made up of 598205 South African residents and 1.7 million foreign travellers. Foreign arrivals, numbering 863232 were made up of 57 790 non-visitors and 805 442 visitors,” said Maluleke.

“The visitors consisted of 270348 same-day visitors - mainly transit passengers and 535 094 tourists,” said Maluleke.

According to the survey: “The breakdown of the tourists by region is as follows: 110 241 from overseas; 417826 from the SADC countries; 6454 from ‘other’ African countries.”

Absa economist Sello Sekele said: “As was expected, travel activity shrank significantly during the month, likely due to the combination of travel restrictions globally and loss of confidence from travellers as the Covid-19 pandemic continued to spread around the world.

“The April tourist arrivals will probably be close to zero after South Africa went into a hard lockdown and shut its borders from March 27,” said Sekele.

Spokesperson for Cape Town International Airport Deidre Davids said: “During the months of April and May, we only processed medical flights, cargo flights and approved essential and repatriation flights.”

Davids said: “The airport has put a number of plans in place to be ready to process flights amid its ‘new normal’ operations. While we do not anticipate large volumes at this stage, an easy start up allows us to test our new ways of working.” 

@MwangiGithahu

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Cape Argus

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