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November 09, 2009

Travel trends: Africa’s on the up

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The V&A Waterfront

Africa has bucked global trends by being the only world region to have international tourist arrivals increase by 4% during the first eight months of the year. According to the United Nations World Tourism Organisation’s World Tourism Barometer, Africa is the only world region that held its own and recorded growth during the recent economic crisis.

On the local front, Statistics South Africa released encouraging figures for the month of August, reporting that South Africa’s international arrivals were up 6,5% from the same month last year. Contributors to the positive statistics included increases in visitors coming from Italy (up 17,8%) and India (up 14,4%).

“Tourism around the world has taken a big hit because of the recession and, whilst our local industry has not escaped without injury, we have pushed through and numbers are gradually rising,” says Mariëtte du Toit-Helmbold, CEO of Cape Town Tourism. “It is important to respond to new markets and trends in these times and apply an innovative approach to marketing with the emphasis on the customer’s unique needs and changing travel patterns.”

During August this year, Statistics South Africa found steady increases in the number of visitors to South Africa from European countries (30 000 from the UK, nearly 15 000 from Germany and 10 000 from France and the Netherlands).

Overall, 27 574 visitors arrived in Cape Town in August. There was a decline in visitors from the US, Canada and Australia, but US media and online interest in Cape Town accounts for ever-increasing shares of international coverage and traffic.

“Curiosity about South Africa, specifically Cape Town, has piqued because we are hosting the FIFA Final Draw on December 4 and, of course, because of the 2010 FIFA World Cup,” says Du Toit-Helmbold.

A spike in interest and 2010 FIFA World Cup bookings is expected after the FIFA Final Draw match fixtures are announced.

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