During August, overseas tourist arrivals to South Africa dropped 11% year on year, while year to date, overseas arrivals are down 9%, according to the latest tourist arrival stats released by Statistics South Africa this week.
Arrivals from two of SA’s biggest source markets are also down. Arrivals from Germany are down 10% year to date and arrivals from the US are down 7% year to date, while the UK has shown negligible growth for the year. During July, the UK showed a 17% increase in arrivals year on year, but arrivals declined 3% during August.
Arrivals from Europe are down 5% year to date.
Arrivals from China and India continued to decline, dropping 3% and 13%% respectively for August year on year. Arrivals from China are down 26% year to date and arrivals from India are down 13%.
David Frost, CEO of SATSA, says the decline can be attributed to the succession of negative publicity the country has received in its key source markets, including reports on load shedding and xenophobia. “We’ve just become an uncool place to go to,” he says, adding that the country’s image has taken a knock. “The image that we have out there because of all this reporting is not a positive one.”
According to Frost, the solution is a powerful, tactical six-month campaign in SA’s key source markets. He says the country need to invest money in a campaign to arrest the tourism decline the country is currently experiencing.
Frost emphasises that the efforts of the private sector and the government need to be synergised, something, he says, that has never happened before. “We should have a think tank that looks at North America, and a think tank that looks at Europe and a think tank that looks at Asia where the top operators and private sector players sit down with SA Tourism to come up with a joint strategy that we all buy into,” he says.
Frost adds that the national carrier, SAA, should also be involved in this discussion. “We are all spending money. We are all doing things in those countries, but we are not synergising.”