Statistics SA’s latest tourism and migration report, reflecting arrival numbers for June, reveals that South Africa saw marginal growth of 2.8% from June last year. However, overseas numbers in fact declined, reflecting a drop of 1.7% year-to-date arrivals.

The top ten countries remain the same as May, with their positions in the top ten having shifted slightly. Important to note is the increase in arrivals from key source markets such as USA and UK, which are consistently the top two countries. The top ten countries and their percentage changes from the same time last year are:

  1. USA (up 1.2%)
  2. UK (up 3.2%)
  3. Germany (down 12.8%)
  4. Australia (down 9.1%)
  5. India (down 8.5%)
  6. France (down 8.7%)
  7. China (up 9.1%)
  8. Brazil (down 10.6%)
  9. Netherlands (down 0.9%)
  10. Canada (down 0.7%)

Overall, European numbers have declined, showing 2% less than the same time last year. North America has shown a small amount of growth, up 0.7%.

An examination of the trends over the last four years shows an expected seasonal decline around June. Comparatively, although 2018 is down slightly from 2017, it continues to reflect the seasonal shifts seen in previous years. The graph below reflects the overall numbers of the last four years to illustrate this.

The Chinese market continues to grow. Last month, Tourism Minister Derek Hanekom made special note of this during a pre-recorded interview screened at the Southern Africa Tourism Services Association conference. Hanekom encouraged South Africans to welcome Chinese tourists, even suggesting learning Mandarin to tap into the market more effectively.

The Portuguese market continues to decline, reflecting a 21% decline in numbers from 2017, compared with the year-to-date figures for this year. Conversely, the Argentinian arrivals have grown a remarkable 30% this year, adding to strong numbers from South America which has grown to 57 051 arrivals so far this year, 6.7% higher than last year.

South Africa’s largest source market overall continues to be SADC countries, making up 73% of all arrivals and 98% of the total arrivals from Africa. With 3.7 million arrivals this year, this is a 4.3% increase in year-to-date numbers from last year. South Africa’s neighbouring countries provided the most visitors with the largest being Zimbabwe followed by Lesotho, Mozambique, Eswatini (Swaziland) and Botswana. Angola has shown the most growth, up 22% from the same month last year, followed by Malawi which is up 10%.

Consistent with these numbers, the report indicates that the majority of visitors to SA arrived by road (74.8%). Air transport made up a quarter of all arrivals with the majority of those (74%) using OR Tambo International Airport in Johannesburg as their port of entry. Overseas arrivals to Cape Town International Airport remain consistent at 21% of total arrivals.