U.S. Tourism Up 18 Percent To South Africa, Driven By Weak Rand

U.S. Tourism Up 18 Percent To South Africa, Driven By Weak Rand

Travelers from all over the world took advantage of the weak rand in the first five months of 2015, choosing South Africa as a great value-for-money destination, BizCommunity reported.

Tourism from overseas markets to South Africa grew by 18.5 percent from January to May, compared to the same period in 2015, according to the latest release from Statistics SA.

All South Africa’s major overseas markets are performing well, said Derek Hanekom, minister of tourism. Traditional overseas markets including the U.S. have grown by 18 percent in 2016. Tourism from the U.K., South Africa’s leading overseas market, has grown by 13.7 percent. Germany was a top performer with 21 percent growth in tourism.

“The continuing growth in international tourist arrivals is wonderful news for the tourism sector,” Hanekom said. “It will have a multiplier effect on the many industries that support tourism, so it’s good news for the wider economy as well.”

South Africa isn’t the only country experiencing robust growth in international tourist arrivals.

International tourist arrivals grew by 5 percent across the globe between January and April 2016 according to the latest UNWTO World Tourism Barometer. Results were robust almost everywhere and many destinations reported double-digit growth.

Africa overall is up 7 percent, international tourist arrivals in Sub-Saharan Africa are up 13 percent, while in North Africa is down 8 percent, Hotel News Resource reported.

Non-traditional tourism markets like India and China are moving up the rankings as source markets for South Africa, Biz Community reported. Tourist numbers from China have seen a 50 percent year-on-year increase. Indian tourist numbers grew by 37 percent in May compared to the previous year. May is traditionally the busiest month for Indian tourism to South Africa.

The weak rand is beginning to benefit exporters, Finance Minister Pravin Gordhan told a South African Chamber of Commerce and Industry meeting, according to a Business Day Live report. Sectors like tourism should be taking more advantage of the weak rand. A weak rand makes South Africa’s tourism sector more attractive as it is cheaper for global tourists to travel to the country.

Strong performance in South African tourism has been driven by the weak rand, which fell from 11.78 rand per dollar in the first quarter 2015 to 15.34 rand per dollar at the end of Q1 2016, Money Web reported. It also helps that fears over Ebola have dissipated and confusion has died down over new visa regulations.

“Tourism is a dynamic and resilient economic sector,” said UNWTO Secretary-General Taleb Rifai. “Yet, despite these good results, the tragic events of recent months remind us that safety and security remain a major challenge for all.”