Just how important is tourism to South Africa?
Tourism is one of the six pillars of the South African economy and we now earn more money from tourism than we do from gold.
About one and a half million people now work in the tourism industry in South Africa and that will grow to more than two million in the next 10 years.
For us as a developing country it is an incredibly important sector, not just because of the income but because this is the fastest way to create jobs and that is one of the primary things our government needs to do.
Where are your overseas visitors coming from?
Last year we saw incredible growth from areas such as Europe, North America, South America and good growth out of Australia as well. This year China has seen incredible growth and in Australia we’ve seen a little bit of growth over last year.
How many visitors are you getting from Australia?
Last year we saw about 116,000 Australians visit South Africa. It’s a really high-spending market for us.
We also find that our Australian visitors like to travel around the country – they are incredibly active when they come. So that 116,000 isn’t just a great number for us: it’s 116,000 ‘good’ tourists who want to come and experience South Africa, so we love you even more for that.
So we’re quite an important market?
Yes. It’s the sixth biggest source market that we have, but again you do a lot more when you’re here than those markets that are higher up.
And it’s not just that Aussie visitors give us this great geographical spread. There’s an innate curiosity among Australian travellers. They don’t just want to see things – they want to get physically involved. Whether it’s the food, the lifestyle, there’s an active participation in the holiday.
What are the Aussies doing when they get to SA?
A lot of our Aussie visitors live in big cities with traffic issues, long days and so forth, so they are spending a bit of their time out of our metropolitan areas. They are going into smaller towns where there are still a whole lot of things to do but they get a more relaxed feeling.
We’ve also seen an increase in self-drive coming out of Australia where people decide what they want to do by themselves. We’ve got great highways, we accept Australian driving licences and signage is in English, so it’s really nicely set up for a self-drive holiday.
What have you got coming up in 2019?
There are a whole lot of new tourism products launching in Johannesburg next year. We talk a lot about Cape Town but Jo’burg has a special place in travellers hearts. Once they’ve been, they suddenly realise they are in the capital of Africa, with its cosmopolitan atmosphere and
When you come to Johannesburg, we’re not just going to expose you to the best of South Africa. We’re going to expose you to the best of Africa.
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