from DION HENRICK in Cape Town
CAPE TOWN – SOUTH African Tourism is thrilled at the United States (US) becoming its biggest overseas market.
The US, which has overtaken the United Kingdom (UK), is set to maintain this status, with two major American airlines planning to increase flights to the Southern African country.
In 2021, in addition to the US market securing the top spot, it led in terms of growth in arrivals during the course of the year.
This with a total of 82 020 arrivals, up 14 percent from 2020 and was among the top growth markets.
In 2019, pre-pandemic, the US was second with 373 694 arrivals behind the UK (436 559) and ahead of Germany (322 720).
In 2021, the US also topped the tourist revenue among the overseas markets with R2,3 billion (US$134,6 million), driven by average tourist spending in South Africa being higher than pre-pandemic levels, up to R31 100 from R22 900 in 2019.
“Despite the curveballs thrown by the COVID-19 pandemic, for the first time since 1994, the US became our biggest overseas market,” Themba Khumalo, SA Tourism Acting Chief Executive Officer, said.
That was the year South African became independent and since then, UK was its biggest overseas market.
SA Tourism is also elated about the recent announcement that Delta and United Airlines will likely, later this year, fly directly to Cape Town.
Delta will operate a non-stop flight three times a week between its hub at Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport and Cape Town International.
The airline currently operates flights between Atlanta and OR Tambo International in Johannesburg.
United Airlines will operate a non-stop flight three times a week between Washington Dulles International and Cape Town.
They currently operate non-stop routes between Newark Liberty International Airport to both Johannesburg and Cape Town.
Khumalo said the US market’s outstanding performance owes a lot to both airlines.
They continued to service the destination during the November to December rise of the Omicron variant.
“This despite South Africa being placed on many nations’ red lists, alongside other Southern African countries,” Khumalo stated.
– CAJ News