Why Tourism in South Africa is Declining

South Africa is a beautiful and diverse country. From the border to the beach, South Africa offers what many other nations wish they had. Yet they are faced with multiple challenges which the digitally savvy international travellers are taking note of. This means travellers are looking to destinations in neighbouring countries to satisfy their whimsical wandering desires. Here is a look at why tourism in South Africa is declining.

Five Reasons Why Tourism in South Africa is Declining:
  1. Constrained economic climate
  2. Water and electricity cut offs
  3. Safety and security risks (like petty crime and xenophobia)
  4. Competitive regional and global market
  5. Travel requirements for minors

These factors are hitting SA’s tourism all at once and cannot be resolved without the combined collaboration of the private and public sectors.

South Africa has not made any ground in recouping the 1.3% drop in 2018 overseas tourists, which has now been compounded by the latest data indicating a 2% drop in overseas tourist arrivals between January to August 2019. By contrast, tourism numbers are actually growing globally.

Stats SA research shows that the biggest drop in overseas visitors for the year to date are from traditional markets such as France (-8.7%), Germany (-7.8%) and Australia (–4%). These big international markets account for 74% of all international tourists visiting SA.

And if that wasn’t concerning enough, there was a 16% drop in tourist arrivals from other African countries. The SA tourism market appears to be losing out to countries like Egypt and Kenya.

President Cyril Ramaphosa set the goal of achieving 21-million tourists by 2030. This is double the number of tourists SA had at the beginning of the year and equates to a 6% compound growth. It’s ambitious given the socio-economic challenges South Africa faces.

SA Tourism acting CEO Sthembiso Dlamini echoes Grohmann’s view that it would take cooperation by all stakeholders in the country to overcome the challenges the industry faces.

According to Dlamini, the country would have to increase its “airlift” and make it easy for tourists to visit the country. Targeting the increasing number of young travellers while addressing safety and security as well as environmental issues were other important points raised.

There is much to be done over the next 10 years, but with better collaboration, bigger events and increased safety – South Africa can meet its visitor targets!


Miriro Matema
the authorMiriro Matema
Born in Zimbabwe and living in South Africa, Miriro is a seasoned publishing editor and writer, having worked with leading brands in investment, business leadership and entrepreneurship. Passionate about Africa’s development, Miriro is also a dynamic marketing consultant with 10 years experience working with startups and large multinational corporations. With a heart for travel, Miriro spends her time discovering the nooks of crannies of Africa’s hidden gems, taking the roads less travelled, meeting the beautiful people that call Africa home while exploring their food and culture. Miriro is currently a writer with Byolife Travel and Gallivant Africa

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