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Visa waivers propel South Africa`s tourism sector with 2.4 million visitors

Source: IOL, 14/05/2024

Visa waivers for travellers from Kenya and Ghana have catalysed a remarkable 15.4% increase in international tourist numbers to South Africa. File picture: Tracey Adams/ Independent Newspapers
South Africa`s tourism sector is experiencing a renaissance fuelled by the recent removal of visa requirements for travellers from select African countries.
The latest data from Statistics South Africa showed a remarkable surge in international arrivals, signalling a promising trajectory for the industry.
From January to March 2024, South Africa welcomed 2.4 million international tourists, reflecting a notable 15.4% increase compared to the same period in 2023. Of significance is the substantial rise in arrivals from African nations, constituting 74.5% of all international arrivals.
Ghana stands out with an extraordinary 249.4% surge in tourist arrivals to South Africa from January to March 2024, attributed to the visa waiver scheme implemented in November 2023.
This initiative allows for visa-free travel between Ghana and South Africa for up to 90 days, fostering enhanced business and tourism opportunities.
Similarly, Kenyan travellers have benefited from visa-free access to South Africa since January 2023, resulting in a remarkable 99% increase in arrivals compared to 2022. The impact of visa-free travel, coupled with targeted marketing campaigns, has propelled Kenya into a significant source market for South Africa, with arrivals reaching 42,403 in 2023.
Beyond the African continent, international visitors from the Americas and Europe have also contributed to the tourism surge. Notable increases in arrivals were recorded from North America, the UK, Germany, the Netherlands, and Russia, reflecting the diverse appeal of South Africa as a travel destination.
Asian markets have emerged as key drivers of growth, witnessing a substantial 25.4% increase in arrivals from January to March 2024 compared to the previous year. China notably recorded an impressive 82% increase in arrivals, underscoring the country`s growing interest in South Africa`s offerings. Despite a slight dip compared to 2023, India remains a significant market for South Africa`s tourism sector.
The removal of visa barriers, combined with strategic marketing initiatives, has positioned South Africa as an attractive destination for global travellers. As the tourism industry continues to rebound and evolve, stakeholders remain optimistic about the sector`s resilience and future prospects

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