Surrounded by two oceans – Atlantic and Indian – South Africa occupies only about 2% of the world’s land area while hosting an impressive 10% of the world’s plants, 7% of the reptiles, birds, and mammals, and 15% of coastal marine species. Let’s not forget around 850 species of birds and 300 species of mammals occurring across our landscape.
With an outstanding ecological richness with nine distinct biomes within the country’s borders. These are showcased within five world heritage sites, twenty-two national parks, and hundreds of game and nature reserves.
These core differentiators are reflected in a tourism value proposition that offers high-quality, value-for-money experiences spanning wildlife and safari, the scenic outdoors, beaches, adventure tourism, cultural and city lifestyles.
Before the pandemic, the sector accounted for 2,9% of GDP (8,6% indirect), supported about 725,000 direct jobs (1,49 million direct and indirect), and accounted for 8,2% of total investment activity in 2019. Inbound tourism generated R82,5 billion in direct foreign spend (R126,7 billion total tourism expenditure), contributing an equivalent of 9,2% of total national exports, with 10,23 million international arrivals and 7,11 million domestic holiday trips. The African continent accounted for nearly three-quarters of arrivals, seen in the context of a growing middle class in the continent and its prospects for the future.
In response to the detrimental effect of the pandemic on tourism globally, in August 2020, the Department of Tourism issued a Sector Recovery Plan formulated under 3 strategic themes for a successful recovery: “Re-Igniting Demand”; “Rejuvenating Supply”; and “Strengthening Enabling Capability”. Within these themes, 10 strategic recommendations have been put forward with specific action plans, timeframes and accountabilities. With regards to an enhanced value proposition for investment flowing from these interventions, these include: