by SAVIOUS KWINIKA
JOHANNESBURG – MORE South Africans than ever are visiting their country.
So phenomenal has been the trend that the figures exceed pre-pandemic levels.
This is among a number of positives in a sector that has showed great recovery in the first half of the year.
According to South Africa Tourism, the total arrivals for January – June 2022 were 2 285 746. This was a 147 percent increase from the first half of the previous year.
This means January – June 2022 represented 45 percent of 2019 and 55 percent below 2019 levels.
The domestic tourism sector in comparison has recorded phenomenal growth.
Between January and June 2022, some 15,2 million domestic trips were taken.
This is over 100 percent higher than pre-pandemic levels.
Additionally, the average spend per trip has increased by 28,6 percent meaning South Africans saved their travel money during lockdown travel restrictions to take that one trip they have been looking forward to for two years.
South Africa in 2020 imposed one of the tightest lockdowns to curb the pandemic.
The recovery provides a perfect backdrop to a busy September for the local and global tourism industry.
“September is an exceptionally exciting month, not only because it is the start of spring in South Africa, but because it is Tourism Month,” Themba Mzilikazi Khumalo, SA Tourism Acting Chief Executive Officer, said.
This past weekend, the Minister of Tourism, Lindiwe Sisulu officially launched Tourism Month in the Western Cape.
She said this year’s Tourism Month celebrations were special because South Africa was recognising how far the sector had come, in spite of several challenges, mostly the COVID-19.
“Furthermore, looking at our sector’s great performance for the first half of the year, we have all the reason to celebrate,” Sisulu said.
Mireille Wenger, Member of the Executive Committee of Finance and Economic Opportunities in the Western Cape, encouraged South Africans to explore their country.
“If we all get out there, not only will tourism recover to pre-pandemic levels but it can far exceed them,” Wenger said.
During September, the United Nations World Tourism Organisation (UNWTO) also celebrates World Tourism Day, on the 27th.
September 5 also marked the start of Sho’t Left Travel Week in South Africa.
This is a week when South Africans get to buy travel deals at a discounted rate.
It is lauded as “The Great South African Sale.”
– CAJ News