Foreign arrivals dropped by 71% from just over 15.8 million in 2019 to less than 5 million in 2020, Statistics South Africa has said, as the tourism industry continues to struggle amid COVID-19.
“It is evident that the COVID-19 pandemic impacted the tourism industry quite hard around the world and in South Africa, mainly due to the lockdown and travel restrictions that were imposed,” Statistics South Africa said in a report.
The overall number of travellers decreased by 50.7% over a 15-year period from nearly 24.6 million recorded in 2006 to 12.1 million travellers recorded in 2020.
“In South Africa, the direct contribution of the tourism sector to GDP (Gross Domestic Product) was 130.1 billion rand in 2018 and constituted nearly 3% direct contribution to GDP. In 2018, the tourism sector contributed about 4,5% of total employment in South Africa.
“In 2020, the volume of tourists decreased by 72.6% from 10.2 million in 2019 to 2.8 million in 2020. The distribution of tourists by region of residence shows that 74.8% of the tourists who arrived in South Africa in 2020 were residents of the Southern African Development Community (SADC) countries and 1. 5% were from ‘other’ African countries.
“These two sub-regions constituted a total of 76.3% tourists from Africa. Residents of overseas countries made up 23.6% of the tourists,” the report said.
Mayoral Committee Member for Economic Opportunities at the City of Cape Town James Vos said the latest report from Statistics South Africa showing the effects of the global pandemic on tourism made for sobering reading.
“It goes without saying that the effects of this on workers in the sector and the economy were devastating. The tourism sector contributed nearly 3% – or R130 billion – to GDP in 2018 while 4.5% of those employed in South Africa work in the tourism industry,” said Vos.
Safe and healthy visit
He added: “Under my oversight as MMC for Economic Opportunities, under which tourism falls, we are constantly implementing measures to drive the various stages of economic recovery and industry readiness as outlined in our recently adopted ten-point tourism strategy.
“These initiatives have certainly helped the sector in Cape Town to get back on its feet. However, more is needed.”
Vos said while tourism markets across the globe were similarly hard hit, other countries had started opening up because of their vaccine rollout.
“So too must national government fast-track South Africa’s initiative so that we can better instil confidence that travellers to our shores will have a safe and healthy visit.
“I am also cautiously optimistic to hear the news that the National Coronavirus Command Council (NCCC) has approved – in principle – that tourism sector frontline workers should be prioritised for vaccinations,” he said.
The NCCC approved recently that tourism sector frontline workers should be prioritised for vaccinations.