31 Jan 2024

South Africa's Tourism Close to Pre-Pandemic Peak, Stats Show

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South Africa's tourism industry is witnessing a promising resurgence, as new statistics released by Stats SA indicate a steady recovery approaching pre-pandemic levels. In a remarkable rebound, December 2023 saw 3.5 million travellers at ports of entry, a significant increase from previous months and years.

The United Nations World Tourism Organisation (UNWTO) reported that international tourist arrivals in 2023 reached 88% of pre-pandemic figures, with South Africa closely mirroring this global trend.

After a drastic drop in 2021, where tourist numbers plummeted to 77.9% below 2019 levels, there has been a steady climb. By 2023, arrivals reached 8.48 million, only 17.1% shy of the pre-pandemic benchmark. Despite this, December 2023 numbers still lagged 41.8% behind those of December 2019.

Significantly, tourists from "other" African countries have exceeded pre-pandemic levels by 11.9%, while the Southern African Development Community (SADC) and overseas regions are nearing full recovery. Year-on-year data shows a substantial increase in tourists from various African regions and overseas in the fourth quarter of 2023.

97.9% of these tourists visited for holidays, with the average stay ranging from two to seven days, depending on the region of origin. This resurgence symbolises a vital turnaround for South Africa's tourism sector, hinting at a full recovery in the future.

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Source: Stats SA