Earlier this year, President Jacob Zuma was quoted when the annual tourism statistics were released indicating that the number of tourists visiting South Africa in 2012 surpassed the nine million mark – more than double the global growth in tourism of 4%.
“This phenomenal tourism growth is evidence that we are successfully setting ourselves apart in a competitive marketplace and that South Africa’s reputation as a friendly, welcoming, inspiring, and unique tourism destination continues to grow,” Zuma said.
In a week we will be hosting 700 Chinese in the Cape Winelands. Although they will be coming out to South Africa on an incentive trip as they achieved great success in their wine sales figures in the previous year, the goal is also to introduce them to South Africa and to turn them into ambassadors when they are back home. This initiative will be repeated annually, but the prospect is not only to give an injection to the local tourism industry with the substantial numbers of visitors on these specific incentive trips. The idea is that they will also on return to China have a positive result on the number of Chinese tourist to South Africa and the Western Cape each year.
Is this a realistic dream though?
The annual tourism figures indicate that the international visitor’s numbers increased by 15% with Europa the biggest market growing by 9.5%. The report did also indicate strong growth from Asia and Zuma said: “Since 2009 arrivals from China have more than tripled,”
Earlier this month Tourism Update reported on the latest figures from Statistics SA comparing the ranking of international visitors in the first quarter of 2012 with the same period for 2013.
While the UK, Germany and USA still rank as the top three, with a slowdown in visitor figures from the UK and the Netherlands, China is up one place and ranks at number four for the first quarter of 2013 after being number five in 2012. France is in spot number five.
In the first quarter of 2013, 41 650 Chinese arrived in South Africa – an impressive 34.87% growth on the first quarter of 2012.
According to South African Tourism’s Annual tourism report: In 2012 Asia and Australasia saw a 28.7% increase in tourist arrivals due to increases from all markets. China (including Hong Kong) grew by 55.9% and the largest increase in revenue was recorded by the Asia and Australasia markets (R2,3 billion or 53.2%), growing from R4,4 billion in 2011 to R6,7 billion in 2012. The increase in revenue can be contributed to an increase in tourist arrivals and average spend per tourist. Average spend increased from R12 000 in 2011 to R14 300 in 2012.
“The BRIC nations, with their rapidly growing middle and affluent classes, are expected to be key drivers of growth for many tourism destinations in the next five years”, the report states. “China and India are leading the charge…”
Currently Chinese tourists prefers travelling to other Asian destinations, followed by travelling to the US, Australia and France. They are however already important to the SA tourism market with their fourth place amongst the top five spots – moving from position eight in 2011.
Looking at these figures there is no denying that China is already important to the South African tourism sector.
With China’s population at 1343 239.923 in 2012, a growing middle class with a bigger dispensable income and a very equal exchange rate (at the moment around 1 Yuan = ZAR1.67), China could be an indispensable tourist market for South Africa.
Our country with its diverse regions and cultures, exceptional natural beauty and shopping opportunities – especially for gold and diamonds, can be high on the Asian tourist’s list of priorities.
We are definitely trying our best to get them here!