Statistics South Africa released the Tourism and Migrations figures between March 2018 and March 2019. According to the data, South African tourist arrivals have shown no growth, with overseas tourists declining by 9,2% year-to-date from 260 515 to 236 647.

A comparison of movements in the ten leading countries from March 2018 to March 2019 shows that the number of tourists increased for six of the ten leading countries (Brazil, China, The Netherlands, USA, India and Canada) and decreased for the other four (Germany, Australia, UK and France).

Some of South Africa’s key source market year-to-date numbers:

  • UK, 42 772, down 4.9%
  • US, 35 125, up 0.9%
  • Germany, 33 940, down 14.1%
  • France, 17 451, down 9.6%
  • The Netherlands, 10 364, down 1.8%
  • Australia, 8 099, down 8.9%
  • China, 7 679, up 3.7%
  • Canada, 7 148, up 3.2%
  • India, 7 043, down 4%
  • Brazil, 6 423, up 0.5%

Brazil had the largest increase of 19.8% from 5 363 tourists in March 2018 to 6 423 in March 2019. However, when looking at the entire Q1 from 2018 and 2019, Brazil only showed a 0.5% increase.

For overseas countries, the number of tourists to South Africa is generally highest in quarter one and quarter four. Quarter two is characterised by a large decrease in number of tourists, reaching its lowest in June, followed by a gradual increase into the third quarter.

According to the World Tourism Organisation, the May to August period includes the peak tourism season in most of the world’s major tourism destinations and source markets, which explains the significant reduction in number of tourists to South Africa during this period.

Martin Wiest, CEO of Tourvest Destination Managment, says: “March numbers by themselves are not conclusive. However, and very importantly, 2018 was an absolute record year and it would be naïve to expect those results every year. The industry seems to be back at 2017 volumes which we thought were brilliant then, but hard work will be needed to grow South African tourism again.

“Tourism is overall down in South Africa and, interestingly, also Namibia since January. Reasons are difficult to pinpoint, however growing East Africa gaining market-share of Africa travellers and some occurrences of crime toward tourists publicised in global media would have had an effect,” says Wiest.