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Is South Africa's significant tourism growth sustainable?
Although South Africa saw a 12.8% increase in the number of overnight tourists recorded during 2016 compared to 2015, further analysis of data indicates that there is still significant work to be done to ensure long-term, sustainable and successful tourism growth, according to Lee-Anne Bac, Director: Advisory Services at Grant Thornton South Africa. This following Statistics South Africa's release of Tourism and Migration findings for December 2016, on Monday 20 February 2017.
“The 10.04 million overnight tourists that visited our country during 2016 is certainly impressive and it’s a good step in the right direction,” she says.
She highlights that of the 10 million overnight tourists, 2.5 million were from overseas and the balance, 7.5 million, came from Africa. The number of overseas tourists grew by an impressive 18% compared to 2015 while African arrivals, which comprises the lion’s share of tourists recorded during 2016, grew by 11%.
But, Bac warns that these figures need to be reviewed in context so that a more realistic picture of South Africa’s performance in the tourism industry can be assessed. “It’s important to properly consider the decline of nearly 7% of overnight tourists which we recorded during 2015 compared to 2014, with overseas tourists down by nearly 5% during that year,” Bac says.
When analysing tourist arrivals to South Africa, Bac notes that the compound growth figures are very important.