Published on : Friday, January 20, 2017
In spite of various global challenges threats to tourism in the shape of terror attacks, unstable financial situations like Brexit and growing political hostility, demand for international tourism remained strong in 2016. As per the UNWTO world tourism barometer, international tourist arrivals in the world grew by 3.9%. It means, around 46 million more tourists traveled internationally last year compared to 2015 with more overnight visitors.
2016 also marked the seventh consecutive year of sustained growth following the 2009 global economic and financial crisis. South Africa remains very much in the upper line in this global tourism trend, and is experiencing a continual upward curve. Speaking at a press conference in Pretoria, Home Affairs minister Malusi Gigaba said that SA offers a safe travel destination, especially for international visitors. To quote the minister, “People feel safe when they come here. Besides what SA offers as a tourism destination, it remains relatively isolated from the global turbulence that has occurred in other countries in the past year. South Africa has remained relatively isolated from incidents like the tragedy in Germany, and a lot of other countries that have also experienced terrorism.” The UNWTO has cautioned that while still blessed with 620 million tourists last year, the number of visitors to Europe has lessened due to security concerns. The UNWTO chief Taleb Rifai told reporters that the results in Europe were “very mixed,” with some destinations recording “a double-digit growth rate and some others a flat rate.”
France had been hit hard by terror attacks in the past two years and this has affected tourist arrivals. South Africa is also tapping into growing tourism nations, especially China. In order to attract the Chinese market, tourism officials in SA are honing their Mandarin language skills in order to better facilitate Chinese travel to SA. More than 300 million more international tourists travelled the world in 2016 as compared to the previous record in 2008.