South Africa tourism gets BRICS boost

Local revelers and visiting holidaymakers brave inclement weather to take to the water at Umhlanga Pier in Durban, a major South African tourist attraction. RAJESH JANTILAL/AFP

The number of tourists visiting South Africa increased by nearly half last year, boosted by new favorable visa policies and increased arrivals from BRICS countries, the country’s tourism ministry said last week.

South Africa received 8.5 million international tourists last year, a 49 percent increase compared with the previous year, South Africa’s Minister of Tourism Patricia de Lille said.

Africa accounted for 6.4 million visitors, or 75 percent of all arrivals, while about 200,000 people from Asia arrived in South Africa, which is a 69 percent increase from 2022, she said.

“This recovery can be attributed to consistent efforts to showcase South Africa as a welcoming, responsible tourism destination, highlighting experiences that align with intrepid, green economy conscious travelers,” de Lille said.

The country also received a surging number of tourists from Kenya. Effective from Jan 1, 2023, South Africa allowed Kenyans to visit the country visa-free for up to 90 days within a calendar year. This contributed to the surge in the overall number of international tourists, de Lille said.

South Africa was the BRICS chair last year and hosted the 15th BRICS Summit, attracting a number of tourists from the five BRICS countries. There was a 44 percent increase in Indian tourists visiting the country last year with about 80,000 arrivals, South Africa’s tourism ministry said.

A new member of the BRICS family, more than 6,500 tourists from the United Arab Emirates visited South Africa, a surge of 110 percent compared to 2022 figures.

The number of Chinese tourists in South Africa increased by 205 percent last year. De Lille said efforts are being made to improve South Africa’s visa processing and enable more Chinese visitors.

Tshifhiwa Tshivhengwa, CEO of the Tourism Business Council of South Africa, said: “We are recovering as a country from COVID-19 and this could be as a result of the appealing destination marketing we have been doing.”

The writer is a freelance journalist for China Daily.

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