5 things you need to know about South Africa’s Q1 2016 arrivals

  1. All major key source markets showed solid growth, but…

    While many key source markets showed double digit growth, this is compared to 2015 figures, when tourism took a nosedive due to the stringent visa regulations and the Ebola hype. While this growth is encouraging, in many cases, it is just bringing us back on par with 2014 – particularly arrivals out of the Netherlands, China, Australia and India, with both Canada and Brazil still showing lower totals than in Q1 2014.

Arrivals chart

  1. SA is outperforming competitor destinations… 

    While its difficult to compare SA vs competitor countries, due to inconsistencies in terms of how data is collected and published, when looking at the percentage growth in total arrivals for the first quarter of 2016, South Africa appears to outperforming other nations such as Australia, Mauritius and Thailand, as shown in the graph below. While this is encouraging, there is certainly still room for growth, particularly when taking our exchange rate into consideration.

    Competitor arrivals

  2. German arrivals are performing particularly well…

    With 101 482 German arrivals and 19% growth in the first quarter of 2016 (when compared to the same period last year), this market continues to show very strong growth. We can expect German arrivals to show a dip in the next quarter, as this market is very seasonal and tends to only pick up again from October onward.

    German arrivals

  3. China surges ahead, India lags behind with moderate growth…

    The process of applying for visas has been streamlined in China, with the introduction of a number of successful initiatives, including the opening of new application centres and the certification of China-based tour operators to apply for visas on behalf of their clients. The result of this is immediately visible, with Chinese arrivals showing a sharp increase from September 2015 into Q1 of 2016. On the other hand, while India is showing growth, this market continues to struggle with visa issues due to understaffed embassy facilities causing lengthy delays. If unresolved, these issues will come to the fore in India’s peak travelling months of June and July.

    China vs India

  4. Hardly any Brazilians are coming to SA…

    Arrivals out of Brazil continue to plummet, with a -5% drop in arrivals in Q1 2016. Just for the month of March, aside from the usual key source markets, all of the following countries saw more tourists come to SA, than from Brazil: Belgium, Denmark, Ireland, Italy, Norway, Portugal, Spain, Sweden and Switzerland. Based on this, it is debatable whether South Africa should even have a country office in Brazil – SAT’s office in Sao Paulo opened in September 2014, and the market has shown a considerable decline since then.

    Brazil arrivals