Safaris remain popular among international visitors.

Last year, South Africa attracted 10.2 million international visitors*, 2.3% less than the 10.9 million visitors received in 2018. Revenue generated by international visitors also dropped 1.6% to R81.2 billion (€4.17bn).

This is according to the South African Tourism Performance Report 2019, sent to Tourism Update today (June 25) by South African Tourism. The report includes additional insights from Euromonitor, the World Travel and Tourism Council and the United Nations World Tourism Organization. (See the methodology below.)

“We will continue to focus our attention on improving international arrivals and, although the COVID-19 pandemic has grounded all international travel for the moment, we will work tirelessly to improve on our performance,” said SA Tourism CEO, Sisa Ntshona.

He pointed out that South Africa was a “very lucrative shopping destination”, as tourists believed the pricing and variety of merchandise was good. “Although there was a reduction of 5.3% in the total shopping spend in 2019, it is still the biggest sector where tourists visiting SA spend their money.”

The report highlighted that the average number of nights spent in South Africa also declined, from 12 nights recorded in 2018 to 11 nights last year. Furthermore, the geographic spread dropped, with fewer tourists visiting more than one province. This decreased from 20.3% in 2018 to 19.5% in 2019.

Gauteng, Limpopo, Western Cape and Mpumalanga were the most-visited provinces.

Other report highlights included:

  • One in five (17.3%) of the international tourists that visited South Africa were first-time visitors, while the remaining 82.7% were repeat visitors.
  •  Six out of 10 of the tourists who visited South Africa were below the age of 34 years.

*An international visitor is defined as one who stays at least one night in collective or private accommodation in the country visited.

Survey Methodology

  • This report is based on the systems and methodologies that were developed and applied from 2001. In 2002, South African Tourism extended the survey of departing foreign tourists at OR Tambo International Airport from a summer and winter survey to a survey conducted throughout the year.
  • In 2003, the coverage was extended to Cape Town International Airport as well as monthly surveys of the largest segment of foreign arrivals, i.e. land border arrivals. The Departure Survey measures the travel behaviour of foreign tourists as they leave South Africa from both land and airports of entry (the number of people arriving by sea is negligible, and hence travel by sea is not included in the survey).
  • As it is not feasible to interview every tourist leaving the country, SA Tourism designed a random stratified sampling framework of n = 3 800 per month at the airports and n = 1 000 per month at the land border posts). This is derived from the Statistics South Africa tourist arrivals data, which is representative of the tourist arrival universe.
  • The sample is drawn to be representative of the population at a margin of error of 1.6% for the airport monthly sample and 3.1% for the land border monthly sample at a confidence interval (95%).
  • The results are subsequently statistically weighted up to the tourist arrivals by air and road as released by StatsSA, in a given time period. This allows continuous tracking into expenditure patterns, accommodation usage, travel behaviour, experiences, buying-process and travel patterns.

SA Tourism disclaimer:

The research (SIA) unit makes every effort to publish reports that are error-free. However, with the large number of complex records that are analysed, we cannot guarantee that all reports are totally free of error. All errors that are detected are immediately corrected.