Pretoria: Tourism Minister Marthinus van Schalkwyk says the opening of a SA Tourism’s regional marketing office in Lagos, Nigeria, will boost tourist arrivals at the OR Tambo International Airport.
Speaking at the opening in Lagos, Van Schalkwyk said this was an invitation for Nigerians, Ghanaians and other countries in West Africa to come explore the beauty of South Africa. “This office will serve as a tourism hub from which we will look to grow our presence in West Africa.
“Yes, we mark an important milestone here today, but it is exactly this, a milestone, along a road we have long been walking with the travel trade of this region.
“During this time we’ve invested heavily in understanding the needs of the West African traveller so as to ensure that your holiday experience is as rewarding or memorable to you as it is to us.
“To that end, we have also been working tirelessly to ensure that South Africa offers the West African travellers a holiday that enriches their lives through a world of new experiences,” he said.
When other industries – like manufacturing, retail and agriculture – were amongst those that buckled under the pressure brought about by 2008’s global recession, the tourism sector showed an impressive growth.
While tourist arrivals from the United States and the Eurozone – SA’s trade partners – showed an unimpressive growth in recent times, those from Africa recorded positive growth.
Van Schalkwyk said that 73 282 Nigerian tourists visited South Africa in 2012 – an overall 13.8% increase to the 64 402 Nigerian tourists who visited South Africa in 2011.
“At the end of June 2013, Nigerian arrivals had continued to grow on a strong trajectory: 15.9% growth on the same period in 2012 to 40 097 tourist arrivals.
“Likewise, tourist arrivals from Ghana to South Africa grew a phenomenal 23.8% in 2012, when South Africa welcomed 22 953 Ghanaian tourists. Up to end June 2013, arrivals from Ghana were growing at 27.3%, to 13 663 tourist arrivals for the six-month period.
“Global interest in visiting Africa is at an all-time high; and it is also our intention to do our bit to convert this interest into increased arrivals across the continent.”