Johannesburg - South Africa might be plagued by distressing crime rates, femicide and a resurgence of xenophobic attacks, but an international report released this week has revealed the country is still one of the wealthiest regions in Africa, being home to twice as many millionaires as any other country in the continent.
The New World Wealth released its Africa Wealth report which showed total wealth held in Africa amounts to around $2.2 trillion.
This figure is expected to rise by 35% over the next 10 years, reaching $3.0 trillion by 2028.
While the research revealed that South Africa is richer than many of its African counterparts, authorities also said it remains one of the top tourism destinations on the continent.
The Africa Wealth report attributed South Africa’s high tourism rate to several factors, including great weather and an array of natural attractions such as wildlife and beaches.
It also listed the country’s well-established luxury areas such as Camps Bay, Sandton and Umhlanga, its top restaurants and hotels and the fact that it is an English-speaking country as other elements for its high visitation rate.
These sentiments were echoed by national tourism spokesperson Blessing Manale, who told The Saturday Star this week that despite tough economic conditions around the world, international tourism arrivals in South Africa grew by 1.8% (10.5 million) from January to December 2018, compared to the same period in 2017.
Manale said this growth was driven mainly by African markets which account for more than 70% of South Africa’s arrivals. This statistic does, however, not take into account the effect of the attacks on foreign nationals in the country recently which saw several countries on the African continent warning its citizens about travelling to South Africa.
Manale condemned the xenophobic violence and aid it could severely damage the country’s reputation with tourists from Africa and elsewhere who might resort to staying away from South Africa admid the violence against foreign nationals.
He also listed the country’s high crime and femicide rates as factors which might scare tourists away from visiting South Africa.
“Tourists who feel unsafe in a destination or were threatened are not likely to return to the said destination, nor are they likely to recommend the destination to others,” said Manale.
But he insisted that the Tourism Department was working hard to keep visitors safe while they were in the country. “Although crime is a universal problem, the safety of tourism practitioners and tourists travelling in South Africa is a priority.
“We continue to work with industry stakeholders and the South African Police Services to ensure safer communities that will ultimately result in safer tourism environments.”
The Southern Africa Tourism Services Association (Satsa) said it was too soon to say what effect the xenophobic violence had had on tourism in the country, but it had damaged the nation’s reputation abroad.
Satsa’s public relations and communications manager, Natalia Rosa, said that while the attacks on foreign nationals had not necessarily occurred in tourism hotspots such as the Joburg and Pretoria CBDs, local authorities should work on keeping everyone in South Africa safe.
“Every South African citizen must feel safe for tourists to feel safe,” Rosa said.
She added that local tourism authorities could continue to attract visitors by giving them the right information about South Africa instead of them relying on international news reports.
She said that the country should make it easier for tourists to visit South Africa and one way to achieve this was to ease visa regulations.