Statistics South Africa (SSA) in its report on tourists and migration confirmed on Wednesday that fewer tourists visited South Africa in August this year than the same time last year.
According to the report, the number of tourists decreased dramatically from August 2018 to August 2019. Six of the ten overseas countries from which tourists usually visit South Africa showed a decrease in the number of tourists to South Africa. Australia shows the biggest drop (11%) from 11,000 in 2018 to just under 10,000 in 2019. The number of Chinese tourists also decreased by 10%, from 8,000 in 2018 to just over 7,000 in 2019. Tourists from Britain, France, Germany, and the Netherlands also declined. The same number of Spanish tourists visited South Africa this year as last year. However, most tourists still came from America, Britain and Germany.
According to a statement by the DA, the Department of Tourism has acknowledged crime is the biggest reason for the drop in foreign tourists visiting South Africa. Another major obstacle is the onerous visa requirements that make tourists think twice before making a visit to South Africa, according to the DA.
“The government is not doing much to change the image of South Africa as ‘xenophobic’ and ‘unsafe’ abroad,” the DA said.
Tourists from the ten leading African countries also cumulatively decreased by 1.4%. Lesotho showed the biggest decline of 5.4% (from 127,398 tourists in August 2018 to 120,510 in August 2019). Swaziland, Malawi, Zimbabwe, and Botswana saw an increase in the number of tourists, with Swaziland growing by 16.5% (from 76 911 tourists in August 2018 to 89 605 in August 2019).
According to Manny de Freitas, DA shadow minister for tourism, the tourism industry accounts for 9.2% of all jobs. A decrease in the number of tourists can, therefore, have a negative impact on the economy. The national government needs to pay close attention to this matter, ”says De Freitas.
The DA will request the chair of the tourism portfolio committee in parliament to call on the Minister of Tourism, Mmamoloko Kubayi-Nhubane, to explain what the department will do to improve these statistics. The DA will also address the matter in the national assembly.