Despite being dogged by negative perceptions of expense and security, South Africa’s travel industry is expanding faster the the rest of its economy.
South Africa ranked 64th in the world for travel and tourism competitiveness and third in Sub-Saharan Africa in a recent World Economic Forum Competitiveness Report.
Travel constitutes almost 10 percent of South Africa’s gross domestic product, according to a report by the Oxford Business Group.
A World Tourism & Travel Council report predicts tourism in South Africa will rise by 1.9 percent in 2013 and average 4.5 percent growth through 2023.
Travel poured $34 billion into the South African economy in 2012, slightly more than mining, which contributed almost 9 percent, according to a Chamber of Mines report in the article.
But tourism creates more jobs than mining, about 620,000 in 2012 compared to mining, which provides work for about 500,000 people, the report says.
Next year’s figures may surpass the forecasts, according to the tourism council. From January through November of 2012, South Africa saw 8.3 million non-African tourists, 16 percent more than the previous year and four times the international average for overseas visitors, according to the report.
South Africa’s travel industry also received $5.6 billion of investments in 2012. Investment capital in travel is expected to increase at around 3.5 percent each year for the next 10 years, according to the Oxford Business Group report.
A World Economic Forum Competitiveness Report ranked South Africa third in Africa for travel and tourism competitiveness and 64th in the world. Seychelles and Mauritius took first and second place in Africa. In Sub-Saharan Africa, Namibia ranked fifth, Botswana seventh, Kenya eighth, Rwanda ninth, Uganda13th and Nigeria 22nd out of 31 Sub-Saharan countries.
South Africa got good grades for natural resources, stringent environmental protection and air transport links.
It didn’t do as well for security, ranking 117th out of 140, and 130th in terms of the cost of crime and violence to business. The report also said South Africa was losing its edge to rivals, cost-wise.
Higher fuel, ticket taxes and airport charges have affected the competitiveness of South African travel, the survey found.
Security fears are a major deterrent for travelers, who are less likely to travel if they lack confidence in the social, political and economic foundations of the destinations they want to visit, according to Mariette du Toit-Helmbold, head of Cape Town Tourism, the city’s official tourism marketing agency.
She said in the Oxford Business Group report that her staff tries to stem concerns by distributing safety tips and helpful hints on safety in Cape Town as well as true and relevant statistics on crime in South Africa. Being transparent about safety is helpful, she said.
The facts speak for themselves. Increasing tourism revenue suggests foreign tourists have been not been put off from visiting South Africa so far.