Figures released by the Cape Town Routes Unlimited (CTRU) tourism agency suggest that South Africa had the largest growth of international tourism in the world during the 2005-2006 holiday season.
Of the 800 million international travelers world-wide, 7.4 million visited South Africa during 2005. This was an impovement of over 10% compared with 2004, which makes South Africa by far the fastest growing market in the world according to the CTRU. Most of the international visitors were from the UK, Germany and the US spending a total of 0.5 billion dollars during their stay.
People coming to South Africa didn’t just come for safari trips though; many tourists came seeking essential and cosmetic surgey. Such “scalpel safari” visitors are drawn by the avaliabilty of quality medical services at competitive prices. In fact the number of overseas scalpel safari patients has trebled in the last three years according to experts.
Most visitors were drawn to the Western Cape region of South Africa, leading Virgin Airways, BA, and Lufthansa to create additional long haul flights directly into Cape Town airport.
I’m not convinced that all of the international visitors were tourists though, and the CTRU doesn’t appear to give a breakdown of business and pleasure visits. Nonetheless, with such a boom occurring before the start of the FIFA Football World Cup inÂ 2010, it looks like South Africa is a destination to watch.
For more details of tourism attractions and venues in the Western Cape, pop over to the CTRU website.