Tourist arrivals to South Africa increased to more than eight million in 2010, Tourism Minister Marthinus van Schalkwyk said on Tuesday.
“We are delighted with these strong growth figures, particularly as they come so soon after a global economic recession,” Van Schalkwyk said at a media briefing in Parliament.
According to the figures, tourist arrivals rose to 8 073 552, compared with 7 011 865 in 2009.
The “particularly good growth” in tourist arrivals figures was boosted by the 2010 Soccer World Cup, Van Schalkwyk said.
“South Africa in fact recorded a peak in tourist arrivals in June and July 2010, which is traditionally our low season.
“From the results of our survey on arrivals during the World Cup, we know that more than 309 000 tourists arrived in South Africa for the primary purpose of the World Cup.
“The World Cup arrivals therefore represent about 4% of the total arrivals for 2010.”
Van Schalkwyk said the legacy of the tournament was a major boost for the industry as it had “cemented a foundation for sustained investment and growth”.
“Considerable work has already begun across the sector as we now look to maintain the momentum and interest in our valued, world-class destination,” he said.
Van Schalkwyk said, however, that the growth was not driven only by the World Cup, as the figures showed that tourist arrivals performance in 2010 exceeded those of 2009 across all 12 months of the year.
Tourist arrivals from the Americas grew the fastest, followed by Asia and Australasia.
The United Kingdom, United States, Germany, The Netherlands and France remain the top five overseas source markets.
Notable countries where “considerable tourism” growth to South Africa was recorded in 2010 include India, China, Brazil and Nigeria.