Cape Town - South Africa's foreign tourist market grew by 3% to more than 8.3 million in 2011, driven by a surge in German
and Asian visitors, Tourism Minister Marthinus van Schalkwyk said in
Cape Town on Thursday.
Marketing efforts in its trading partners' countries
had paid off as the country capitalised on enhanced international
awareness after the 2010 Soccer World Cup, he said.
"The hard work by all in the tourism industry has paid
off as we recorded a 3.3% increase in our 2011 international
tourist arrival figures.
"While South Africa's core markets in Europe and North
America remain our major source of long-haul tourists, tourism's overall
growth in 2011 was largely due to a 14.6% growth in the emerging
markets of Asia."
The figures show a 26.2% rise in visitors from
India to 90 367, while 84 883 Chinese tourists visited compared to
68 309 in 2010.
The number of visitors from Europe shrank by 3.5% after the European Union's debt crisis.
Visitors from Germany, however, increased to 235 774, a
9.3% rise on the previous year. This was in contrast to the
Greek market, which shrank by 28.7% to 5 822 visitors.
The United Kingdom remained South Africa's strongest
market with 420 500 visitors, but with 52 500 or 7.2% less
visitors than the previous year.
About 287 614 tourists from the US visited South Africa in 2011, a 1.9% increase on 2010.
Van Schalkwyk said the World Cup had cushioned South Africa from "difficulties" in the European market in 2010.
He said, given that Europe's woes were not yet over, a
drop in tourists from this market was expected in 2011 as price-conscious consumers chose to travel for shorter periods.
"The global economic crisis and high unilateral taxes
have undoubtedly had an impact on us, but Europe remains our bread and
Van Schalkwyk said South Africa's neighbouring countries
continued to be major source markets for tourist arrivals, with most
coming from Zimbabwe, Lesotho, Mozambique, Swaziland and Botswana.
According to the figures, 1.553 million Zimbabweans visited South Africa in 2011 compared to 1.513 million in 2010.
Tourists from Africa were major leisure tourists,
attracted by South Africa's beauty, nightlife, lifestyle and shopping
"What the global economic crisis has illustrated is
that building the domestic market and the African land market is crucial
to protecting our tourism industry against global shocks," the minister