The latest data released by StatsSA this week confirms the continuing downward trend for tourism in South Africa. The data is performance-based and records figures from January to August this year. The statistics confirm that fewer international tourists are visiting Southern Africa’s shores, be it from other African countries or other parts of the world.
DA Shadow Minister of Tourism for South Africa, Manny de Freitas MP, had this to say:
Countries specifically targeted by TourismSA have shown a dramatic decrease in tourists to our country. This includes China, which has shown a decrease in tourists to South Africa by over 10%. This is equal to the same decrease in Chinese tourists recorded in 2018. German tourists have traditionally contributed high numbers of visitors to our shores, but those have decreased by 6.5%. Tourists from other African countries have also decreased cumulatively by 1.4%.
The Democratic Alliance (DA) will be raising this matter in Parliament’s Portfolio Committee on Tourism and will be requesting the Committee Chairperson to summon Minister Mmamoloko Kubayi-Ngubane to explain what exactly her Department is doing to change these statistics. The DA will also table this issue in the National Assembly.
It is clear that Government is doing very little to change the image of South Africa abroad. Little, if anything has been done to deal with the perception that South Africans are xenophobic and that our country is not a safe place to visit.
Despite the Department of Tourism and TourismSA admitting that crime is the biggest obstacle to tourism growth, little appears to be done to ensure that all relevant departments work together to resolve this issue. Furthermore, our onerous visa requirements continue to hinder travelers from choosing South Africa as their destination of choice. These are all obstacles to growing tourism that could proactively be dismantled, yet Minister Kubayi-Ngubane and her department appear to be sitting on their hands instead.
The Tourism industry accounts for 9.2% of all employed South Africans and is a great creator of jobs. However, trends such as these have the potential to change this and consequently have a negative impact on our economy. National Government needs to address these concerns urgently and with immediacy.