Tourism Minister Patricia de Lille has announced that the tourism industry in South Africa has been recovering over the last two years and is on track to exceed pre-COVID-19 performance levels.
Great strides made in tourism recovery
Speaking at the launch of the Africa Travel Indaba to be held in Durban in May, de Lille said that great strides had been made in tourism recovery through collaboration and partnerships.
Strong tourism performance in 2021
She cited tourism performance numbers over the last year as evidence that the industry is bouncing back, with at least 5.7 million people visiting South Africa between January and November 2021, a 152% increase from the same period in 2020.
Majority of arrivals from other African countries
The Minister highlighted that arrivals from other African countries were the most substantial source of arrivals, with over four million people visiting the country during this period.
Tourism recovery is a key priority for the government
Recovery of the tourism sector is a crucial priority in the South African government’s aim to stimulate equitable economic growth, as outlined in the Economic Reconstruction and Recovery Plan (ERRP). The Africa Travel Indaba provides a strategic platform to achieve the goals of the ERRP, de Lille explained.
Air travel crucial for economic growth
The Minister said that one of the most important parts of economic growth is making it easy to trade and move across the continent and to other markets by giving people access to air travel on a national, regional, and foreign level.
De Lille said air travel to and from South Africa has improved. She also noted that an important milestone in air travel would be reached when the first group tour flight from China since the start of the pandemic comes.
New routes and collaborations
De Lille hailed the opening of new routes and new partnerships in the sector, such as LATAM Airlines Group’s plan to start a nonstop trip between So Paulo International Airport in Brazil and OR Tambo International Airport in South Africa again in July or August 2023. She also talked about South African Airways’ growth into new markets across Africa and praised it as a big win for the country.
Africa Travel Indaba presents an opportunity for continued efforts
In closing, the Africa Travel Indaba is a chance to continue the work that was started last year when people in the industry got together for the first time since the COVID-19 pandemic at this stage.
The South African government is committed to building the African tourism sector and reshaping the economy. De Lille urged everyone to play their part in re-igniting the African economy.