By Ogova Ondego
Published December 18, 2013
South Africa is set to open a tourism office in Lagos, Nigeria, on January 28, 2014
Marthinus van Schalkwyk, South Africa’s Minister for Tourism, says the move will enable his country to “bolster the relationships we have with both trade and consumers in the region, and unlock the full potential of tourism.â€
A recent survey by South Africa’s Rand Merchant Merchant Bank has showed that over the next two to four years Nigeria will overtake South Africa as Africa’s most attractive investment country. While the economy of Nigeria is set to grow at a steady pace of 6%, that of South Africa will grow at a slower margin of 3.2%. The South Africa-based Rand Merchant Bank survey says Africa’s largest economy is suffering from slow-downs in mining and manufacturing, labour unrest and decreased productivity.
â€œTourismâ€™s contribution to the South African economy,” says van Schalkwyk, “remains a key driver of growth and employment. Tourism injected ZAR35.3 billion into the economy from January to June this year. Compared to other economic sectors, this is more than, for example, the ZAR32.6 billion that gold exports contributed during the same period.â€
A South African Government report on the state of tourism in 2013 shows that tourist arrivals from within Africa grew by 4.8%; arrivals from Africa land markets grew by 4.4% while arrivals from African air markets grew by 11.4%.
However, it is the strong growth, especially from West African air marketsâ€”Ghana (+27.3%) and Nigeria (+15.9%)â€”that is making South Africa to focus on the region.
â€œWe remain confident in the growth in tourism arrivals from Africa, particularly from our air markets in West and East Africa,â€ Minister van Schalkwyk says. â€œWe are therefore proud to open a South African Tourism office in Lagos on the 28 January 2014. We look forward to being part of the larger Nigerian travel community. Having a marketing home in this critical West African region will do much to bolster the relationships we have with both trade and consumers in the region, and unlock the full potential of tourism.â€
The bigger picture shows that total tourist arrivals to the country grew 5.1% during the first six months of 2013.
While tourist arrivals from Europe grew by 5.5% to 675 595 arrivals, up from 640 231 arrivals in the same period in 2012, South Africa continued to see strong growth from Germany, its third biggest source market, with arrivals growing by 13.8%. There was also positive growth in arrivals from France (10.8%) and Italy (7.1%) in the first six months of 2013.
However, two of South Africaâ€™s traditional source markets, the United Kingdom (UK) and the Netherlands are still under pressure and recorded marginal declines in arrivals of -0.6% (UK) and -1,2% (Netherlands) during this period.
Arrivals from North America grew by a further 3.7% in 2013. Some 194 586 tourist arrivals were recorded for the first six months of 2013 compared to 187 703 in 2012.
â€œFor us to compete as a destination in the current economic environment where many travellers in our traditional core markets are choosing to travel for shorter periods of time and closer to home, we need to work harder than ever to be seen as a destination that offers brilliant value for money. Working with our private sector partners, we are focused on nurturing this value proposition,â€ the Minister says.
Asian growth figures for the first six months of 2013 showed growth of 12.7% to 210 776 tourist arrivals compared to 186 981 tourist arrivals during the same period in 2012. Arrivals from China grew by 23.9% and India by 11% during this period.