Cape Town has South Africa’s four most popular attractions, including Robben Island – apartheid’s most notorious jail where former president Nelson Mandela spent 18 years.
South Africa’s economy is in dire need of some positive news. It fell into recession in the first quarter of the year and is seen in Reuters polls growing just 0.7 percent for 2017 as a whole.
Unemployment is at a 14-year high of 27.7 percent. The country’s credit rating, meanwhile, has been downgraded by two of the top three credit rating agencies. But tourists have been coming, possibly encouraged by the weak rand. It has fallen more than 20 percent against the dollar since a high last year.
According to South African Tourism, some 10 million foreigners overall arrived last year. Tourists numbers to the Western Cape, which was the country’s best performing region in terms of paid bed nights and first time vistors, have recovered from 1.32 million in 2015 when strict new visa rules were implemented. The rules have since been lifted and flights were also increased as tourism rebounded.
According to Travel & Tourism Competitive 2017 report, South Africa still leads the regional ranking, taking the 53rd place globally, though the country slipped 5 places since 2015.
However, in an official statement released on Thursday 27th July, officials state that South Africa’s top tourist hub – Cape Town – expects a 13 percent jump in tourist arrivals this year to 1.77 million. This indeed has become a rare bright spot for Africa’s third biggest economy that slid into recession in March.