Tourism in South Africa is riding the crest of a wave, according to the country’s President Jacob Zuma, and is out-pacing growth across the rest of the African continent. Arrivals in South Africa last year increased 12.8% to break through the 10 million barrier, including more than 100,000 visitors from Australia.

“We are happy with this growth because tourism has a substantial potential of changing people’s lives for the better, especially during these depressed economic times globally,” Zuma said at the recent INDABA travel exhibition.

“More than a billion people now travel around the world every year, and world international tourist arrivals grew by 4% on average (last year),” he said. “Africa enjoyed an 8% increase in international tourist arrivals to reach 58 million arrivals. This means that Africa is growing at twice the rate of the global average.

“It is indeed most encouraging that more and more world travellers are discovering our continent. It means they see its value as an exceptional destination for holidays and business events.”

His remarks were echoed by South African Airways’ country manager for Australasia, Tim Clyde-Smith, who told travelBulletin the “wallaby route” from Australia was performing well, particularly within the leisure travel sector. “We’re seeing great interest and patronage on our daily flights from Perth which fly overnight to Johannesburg. As well as offering competitive fares, we believe the value of the rand to the Aussie dollar is a real incentive to travellers. Our codeshare agreement with Virgin is certainly contributing and the recent move by VA of all operations to Terminal 1 at Perth Airport means less transit time for passengers,” he said.

“We’re also benefiting from new Africa-dedicated sellers and specialists entering the Australian market. That too is raising the profile of South Africa and the rest of Africa as a strong travel choice,” he said.

“These combined factors and the fact that many Aussies are putting a trip to Africa on their bucket list has us very positive about the rest of 2017 and into 2018.”

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