The newly appointed Minister, along with the COO charted out the tourism board’s India-specific growth strategy for the new year. As South African Tourism sets its sights on doubling international tourist arrivals from 10.5 million to 21 million by 2030, India is expected to play a significant role in achieving this long-term goal. From January to October 2019, the destination welcomed 81,316 Indian visitors to South Africa – a 5.48% YoY increase. Average length of stay saw an 8% YoY increase in the first half of 2019 from 25 nights to 27 nights. Total Indian traveller spends in the first half of 2019 were at a 4year high with South African Tourism achieving 64% of its annual spends target within this period.
In 2019, South Africa piloted a new e-visa system in New Zealand. On successful completion, there is intention to begin rolling-out e-visas in other countries, with India being amongst top priority markets. With the aim to further stimulate travel and tourism from India, the Minister indicated that the piloting of e-visas for the market was under serious consideration and would be initiated shortly. This comes close on the heels of an initiative launched in 2018 pre-vetted visas for top tour operators to fast-track visa processing.
In November 2019, the South African Minister of Home Affairs announced that the country was doing away – with immediate effect – the need for unabridged birth certificates previously required by minors visiting from international countries.
South African Hon. Minister of Tourism, Ms. Mmamoloko Kubayi-Ngubane announced that, “South Africa has taken several measures to provide ease of access to Indian tourists including bringing changes in the visa regime. The online visa application system pilot testing will happen from next week and if the pilot project goes without any glitch, a full roll out will take place from 1st April 2020. We have a positive outlook for the India market and are also in talks with India for granting multiple-entry visa to South Africa.”
“MICE and sports tourism are predicted to drive arrivals growth for South Africa. South Africa has also emerged as a popular wedding destination for Indians. The South African government is also exploring interests from third country airlines willing to operate direct flights on the India-South Africa routes and any relevant proposals would be discussed with the Indian government,” added the Minister.
From January to September 2019, MICE accounted for 24% of the Indian traveller visits. 43% of overall Indian arrivals to South Africa were repeat visitors. 2019 witnessed a 36.6% increase in Indian traveller spends on shopping and a 26% increase in spends on leisure activities in South Africa.