Tourism Minister Derek Hanekom. Picture: SOWETAN
Tourism Minister Derek Hanekom. Picture: SOWETAN

More than 10-million international tourists arrived in SA in 2016, 13% more than in 2015, figures released by Statistics SA show.

This growth rate is well over the global average growth rate of 3.9% for the period.

About 1.1-million more international tourists came to SA in 2016 than in 2015.

"The spectacular growth in tourist arrivals indicates that the close collaboration between various government departments, between the Department of Tourism and industry, and between suppliers and service providers on the ground, has paid off," Tourism Minister Derek Hanekom said. "We have done well to capitalise on our status as a value-for-money destination, offering an array of experiences for all tourist markets."

The UK remained the leading source market for overseas arrivals to SA in 2016 (447,840 arrivals), followed by the US (345,013) and Germany (311,832).

China remained the leading growth market, with year-on-year growth recorded at 38%. Arrivals from India grew 22%.

"The growth in tourist arrivals from China and India has been consistent over the year, following improvements in the visa application processes in those countries. We can build on this and attract even more tourists from these markets in the future," Hanekom said.

There was 11% growth in tourist arrivals from Africa, bringing the total for 2016 to 7.5-million. The highest number of tourist arrivals from African markets came from Zimbabwe (2,028,881), followed by Lesotho (1,757,058) and Mozambique (1,268,258).

Lesotho was the fastest-growing African source market in 2016, recording an increase of 26% over the previous year.

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