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Source: Tourism Update, 07/08/2015

Statistics SA`s analysis of tourist arrivals between 2013 and 2014 fails to take into account that 2013 tourist arrival figures included transit passengers, while for 2014 these were excluded. Statistics South Africa on Tuesday released a statement claiming that SA had experienced "slow growth" in tourism from 2013 to 2014, but the analysis is flawed. "The volume of tourists increased by 0,1% between 2013 and 2014," the body said in a statement. However, its analysis fails to take into account that 2013 tourist arrival figures included transit passengers, while for 2014, these transit figures were excluded. The year-on-year comparison by Stats SA therefore underestimates the country`s growth in tourism. For example, Stats SA claims that tourist arrivals from The Netherlands increased by 8.7%. This figure is arrived at by comparing 2014`s arrivals excluding transits, with 2013`s arrivals including transits. A comparison between both years excluding transits shows that tourist arrivals out of The Netherlands grew 16% from 113 061 in 2013 to 131 287 in 2014. Overseas arrivals grew almost 3% from 2 190 641 in 2013 to 2 254 709, while the year-on-year growth for the first six months in 2014 was 7%. Overseas arrivals dropped in the second half of the year by just under one percent, while arrivals in the final quarter were down by 3%. The decline was attributed to South Africa`s new requirement for visa applications to be made in person, together with the outbreak of Ebola in West Africa. South Africa has experienced an even greater decline in arrivals during 2015, with overseas arrivals into South Africa dropping just under 24% year on year for the month of April. SATSA CEO, David Frost, says accuracy of data becomes particularly important as the industry seeks to measure the impact of the Department of Home Affairs new regulations. "What is particularly concerning is that this erroneous data is being used by Home Affairs to try and point towards a decline in arrivals prior to the announcement of the regulations suggesting that other external factors are to blame for the unprecedented decreases we are now seeing." Frost adds that this is the fourth instance where incorrect data has been presented in order to mislead the public in an attempt to rally support for Home Affairs` controversial new visa regulations. "Firstly, we had the bogus figure of 30 000 children trafficked in SA every year which has since been whittled down to 23 over the last three years. Next, Home Affairs Spokesperson Mayihlome Tshwete compared traveler data and not tourist arrival figures, from February with those with March which does not provide a meaningful comparison given that the one month is much shorter than the other, not to mention the impact of the Easter holidays. "Finally, at a recent WESGRO workshop, the Deputy Minister of Home Affairs, Fatima Chohan claimed that less than 1% of tourists travel with their families. If the Deputy Minister`s assertion is true it would mean that on average, only one family of three people travels on every 300-passenger widebody flight into the country, which is clearly not the case. The correct figure is closer to 20%, if not more," says Frost. - See more at: http://www.tourismupdate.co.za/Home/Detail?articleId=53905#sthash.qHJWpVVM.dpuf


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