The researchers for StatsSA have been busy crunching the numbers again this month, and they’ve detailed a comprehensive picture of all the visitors to Mzansi between May 2018 – May 2019. Overall, it’s good news for tourism in South Africa, which shows foreign arrivals are up by 1.5% within the recorded 12-month period.
Despite reported struggles and increased regional competition, South Africa has remained an attractive destination for international visitors. More than 1.2 million foreign nationals set foot in SA over the past year, and plenty of our fellow countrymen and women have been on the move too: Over 896 000 of us travelled across our borders in the past year.
We’ve broken some of the major statistics down to determine who exactly is coming to visit South Africa, and who are most recurring visitors are. Some of the numbers are no surprise, but others come as a genuine shock…
Tourism in South Africa: Most popular overseas visitors:
(Tourists from these ten countries constituted 75.5% of all tourists from overseas countries)
SA’s Singita Game Reserve named among the world’s best [photos]
Cape Town ranked best city in Africa and Middle East
How to reduce your carbon footprint while travelling
Budget Travel: Easy money-saving tips for your next trip
United States of America (USA): 35 699 (21.5%)
United Kingdom (UK): 21 834 (13.1%)
India: 13 238 (8.0%)
Germany: 11 827 (7.1%)
France: 11 142 (6.7%)
Australia: 8 825 (5.3%)
China: 7 259 (4.4%)
The Netherlands: 5 782 (3.5%)
Brazil: 5 149 (3.1%)
Canada: 4 771 (2.9%)
A comparison of movements in the ten leading overseason countries between May 2018 and May 2019 shows that the number of tourists decreased for four of ten leading countries, France, Germany, The Netherlands and Brazil. But the picture was pretty rosy elsewhere
The UK, for example, experienced the largest increase of visitors to South Africa (up by 6.5%), followed closely by China with an increase of 6.3%. The US also saw their visitor numbers increase by more than 5%.
Tourism in South Africa: Most popular African visitors
(Virtually all tourists from Africa – 97.9% – came from the SADC countries.)
Zimbabwe: 168 046 (29.3%)
Lesotho: 121 426 (21.2%)
Mozambique: 106 341 (18.5%)
Swaziland: 75 161 (13.1%)
Botswana: 51 668 (9.0%)
Namibia: 14 682 (2.6%)
Malawi: 12 853 (2.2%)
Zambia: 11 527 (2.0%)
Angola: 5 090 (0.9%)
Nigeria: 3 597 (0.7%)
Who is visiting South Africa?
In total, the number of tourists increased for five of the ten leading countries (Botswana, Swaziland, Tanzania, Zimbabwe and Angola), and decreased for the other five (Zambia, Namibia, Lesotho, Malawi and Mozambique). Botswana showed the largest increase (15.2%), while Zambia showed the largest decrease (15.8%).
So, we know where people are coming from, but do we actually know the type of people that are most likely to come and visit South Africa? StatsSA also provided information on the different demographics of travellers dipping in and our of Mzansi. Their findings conclude:
56.2% of tourists were male and 43.8% of them were female.
It’s the millennials and the mid-lifers who are propping up tourism in South Africa: The majority of tourists were aged between 35 and 44 years (29.4%), followed closely by the age group 25 to 34 years (27.9%).
Of all our foreign visitors, 97% of them came purely for a holiday: 2.4% travelled on business, with 0.5% of them coming here to study. Around one in a thousand travellers come to South Africa for medical treatment.
We’re a big fan of this: Just two people managed to make the journey from St Helena to South Africa – in an entire year!