The number of people who visited South Africa in the past year has grown exponentially, Tourism Minister Marthinus van Schalkwk said on Tuesday.
“We have seen exponential growth in foreign arrivals to South Africa, culminating in more than 9.9 million foreign arrivals last year,” he said at a breakfast hosted by the Tourism Enterprise Partnership (TEP) in Durban.
Tourism's total direct and indirect contribution to the economy almost doubled from 4.9% in 1994 to 7.9% or R89.4bn in 2009.
“As government, in close partnership with the industry, we have consistently been taking the necessary steps to ensure that we continue on this positive trajectory,” he said.
World Cup success
South Africa would use the success of the soccer World Cup as a springboard to reach new levels of growth.
“With the exceptionally successful hosting of the World Cup in South Africa, the tourism sector in South Africa is set to enter a new growth phase.”
The tourism sector had provided foreign visitors to the tournament an "extraordinary experience", and he was confident they would become "powerful ambassadors" for the country.
One of the problems facing the tourism industry however was that worldwide consumer spending had not recovered fully after the economic meltdown.
“We must be more innovative in our efforts to attract tourists. We must work even harder at marketing our destination in our traditional and very important emerging source markets.”
Van Schalkwk commended the TEP for facilitating tourism growth.
“Since its inception in July 2000, TEP has successfully facilitated transactions in excess of R4bn.”