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International tourists return to South Africa

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International tourists are returning to South Africa and most of them are heading to Cape Town and Johannesburg. Image credit: Leon Louw for WhyAfrica

International tourists return to South Africa

The World Travel & Tourism Council (WTTC) has revealed positive signs of recovery for the South African Travel & Tourism sector with travellers heading back to its major cities.

The report, researched in partnership with Oxford Economics, analysed key indicators such as Travel & Tourism’s direct contribution to GDP, employment and traveller spend.

The results show travellers are returning to cities such as Cape Town and Johannesburg with all indicators bouncing back to pre-pandemic levels.

The WTTC Cities Economic Impact Report shows that in 2019, the Travel & Tourism sector contributed over USD2.5-billion to Cape Town’s economy and more than USD2.1-billion to Johannesburg’s.

However, the pandemic devastated the country’s economy. In 2020, both cities Travel & Tourism’s GDP contribution dropped by more than half, falling to USD1-billion.

Significant recovery since reopening (International tourists return to South Africa)

But light is at the end of the tunnel. Over the last two years, since the border reopened, both cities have witnessed a significant recovery.

In 2022, Cape Town’s sector is expected to have grown to USD1.8-billion, 28% lower than 2019 levels, while Johannesburg’s Travel & Tourism’s sector is forecast to be worth just over USD2.2-billion, 4% above 2019 levels.

According to Julia Simpson, WTTC President & CEO South Africa has long been a world-favourite destination. “After more than two years of disruption, it’s great to see tourists heading back. Tourism provides a massive boost to both the economy and job creation,” says Simpson.

“It is crucial that the national and local governments continue to recognise the importance of Travel & Tourism for the local and national economies, jobs, and businesses,” Simpson adds.

In addition to Cape Town and Johannesburg, tourists are returning to the Drakensberg in Kwa-Zulu Natal, another favourite destination in the past. Video by Leon Louw for WhyAfrica

Jobs on the rise (International tourists return to South Africa)

In 2019 there were more than 170,000 people employed by the Travel & Tourism sector in Cape Town. In 2020 this figure dropped to just over 117,000 (-32%). But in 2021, employment grew by 8% to 127,000 jobs and is expected to have grown at a two and a half times that rate in 2022, to reach more than 152,000 jobs.

In Johannesburg, it’s a similar picture.

Before the pandemic, there were over 138,000 Travel & Tourism jobs, but this number fell by 28,000 to just over 110,000 in 2020. A 10% rise in 2021 saw the number increase to more than 120,000.

WTTC is forecasting jobs to grow three times as fast in 2022 to reach more than 156,000 jobs – 11.5% more jobs than pre-pandemic levels.

The report also shows that the sector’s contribution to both cities will increase by more than USD2.25-billion over the next decade.

According to the global tourism body’s forecast, Cape Town’s Travel & Tourism sector is expected to contribute over USD3.3-billion, while Johannesburg’s will provide a boost of almost USD800-million by 2032 to reach just under USD3-billion annually.

To access the Cities Economic Impact Report visit wttc.org

International tourists return to South Africa

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