Record tourist numbers
South Africa recorded a boom in global tourism by attracting more than 8.3million tourists last year - beating the record-breaking 2010 figures.
Tourism Minister Marthinus van Schalkwyk released the 2011 tourist-arrival figures in parliament yesterday.
"Despite tough economic conditions, South Africa's tourist arrivals have surpassed the 8073552 mark they reached when recording 15.1% growth in 2010," he said.
"The 2010 Fifa World Cup was a once-in-a-lifetime showcase for our country, which gave us unprecedented international media exposure worth billions of dollars and left us with an enhanced, modern world-class tourist infrastructure."
Van Schalkwyk said that, excluding the 310000 people who came to South Africa specifically for the World Cup, the actual growth in 2011 is 7.4%, which is above the 4.4% global growth. Gauteng and Western Cape remain the most visited provinces.
He attributed the growth to the emerging markets in Asia and Africa, with Nigeria and Tanzania being the continent's biggest growth markets last year.
Europe and North America remained South Africa's major sources of "long-haul tourists".
Although European tourist arrivals declined by 3.5% due to the global economic crisis, North American numbers grew by 2.3% despite that continent's own economic challenges.
"The World Cup cushioned us from the difficulties facing the European market in 2010 . a drop in tourists from the market in 2011 was expected," he said.
Van Schalkwyk said South Africa's target was to attract more than 100000 Indian tourists by the end of next year, and 100000 tourists from China by the end of 2013.
The government has allocated R218-million to SA Tourism to enable it to market South Africa as a preferred tourist destination to other African countries over the next three years.