According to the Department of Tourism, Tourist arrivals to South Africa increased 10.4% between January and October last year compared with the same period in 2011, helped by a growing number of German visitors, writes Des Langkilde.
Germany was one of the key traditional overseas markets for travel to South Africa, with the US and the UK at the top of the pile, the department said.
Over the 10-month period, 7.5m tourists arrived compared with 6.8m for the same period in 2011. The number of German tourists increased 12.2% to 204,247.
South African Tourism says that South Africa enjoyed a highly successful trade show at ITB in Berlin this year, and brokered excellent business deals, which they are confident will result in thousands more German tourist arrivals in the months ahead.
“We met with a high number of new trade partners and German tour operators wanting to include South Africa into their portfolio of destinations. We also met a number of top international journalists in order to market our destination. We cemented old partnerships, and forged exciting new ones, and these will help to grow foreign arrivals in the future,” says Tourism Minister, Marthinus van Schalkwyk who led the South African delegation.
Germany is an enormously valuable market for South Africa, and South African Tourism has committed to continuing to invest heavily in marketing campaigns. The German travel trade is an especially important stakeholder group for South African Tourism, and agreements are in place with 17 German key tour operators who work with South African Tourism to sell the destination to a growing market.
“Germany remains a strong, vibrant and robust market for us, and we are serious about our responsibility to make South Africa as accessible as possible to our German visitors. We work hard to defend our share of the market, and grow it,” said South African Tourism Chief Executive Officer, Thulani Nzima.
Tourism has been identified by the government as one of six priority sectors to achieve economic growth and attract investment, and South Africa intends to attract 15m arrivals a year by 2020 to grow tourism’s contribution to the economy and job creation.
Minister van Schalkwyk said during his visit to ITB that positive growth from the traditional markets, and from Europe in particular, “gives us confidence that the work we are doing to grow tourist arrivals is paying dividends”.
“South Africa has every reason to feel confident about the state of its tourism industry,” he said. “Credit should go to the tourism industry for creatively and constructively working together to grow tourism to South Africa. It is also important that we ensure that every new tourist who arrives in our country is given the best possible experience, as word of mouth remains one of our most important marketing tools.”
To inspire and motivate German travellers, SA Tourism intensified its marketing initiatives with German tour operators, and approached travel agents individually to educate them about the destination.