South Africa ranked largest Travel & Tourism Economy in Africa

As South Africa’s tourism sector makes headwinds with rapid recovery and efforts to enhance tourism growth, the Department of Tourism is pleased to report that South Africa has ranked the highest in the African region in the 2024 Travel and Tourism Development Index (TTDI) by the World Economic Forum. 

The Travel & Tourism Development Index (TTDI) 2024 is the second edition of an index by the World Economic Forum. It was released earlier this week, where South Africa was ranked 55th among 119 countries. It also emerged as the leading country in the rankings for the African continent. 

The TTDI findings revealed that South Africa is home to the largest Travel and Tourism Economy in Africa.

Index covered 119 economies

The TTDI 2024 covers 119 economies. It measures the set of factors and policies that enable the sustainable and resilient development of the travel and tourism sector. This in turn contributes to the development of a country. 

Minister of Tourism, Patricia de Lille lauded the findings. She said it was testament to sector’s efforts and partnerships.

She said: “We are extremely pleased with this ranking as it affirms our commitment and work to elevate the significance and contribution of the tourism sector in South Africa. The tourism sector has achieved robust growth over the past year. This is due to closer partnerships and collaborations with the private sector. These aimed to grow tourism to its full potential.”  

In the 2024 Index, South Africa moved up seven places compared to its previous ranking. It also scored high for price competitiveness, ICT readiness, natural resources and travel and tourism socio-economic impact. 

“We are delighted by the growth. Our mission remains to exponentially grow arrival numbers and the overall performance of the tourism sector. The sector already makes a significant contribution to South Africa’s GDP and job creation efforts.

‘More still to be done’ – minister

“But there is still so much more to be done. We have been working closer with the private sector and [it is] bearing fruit. I want to acknowledge and thank the tourism private sector stakeholders for all their hard work. Also for collaborating with government to grow this exciting and important sector,” De Lille said. 

“The South African tourism sector’s greatest asset is our people. We will continue working to grow tourism’s contribution to the prosperity of all people and the planet.” 

In 2023, South Africa welcomed close to 8.5 million international visitors. 6.4million of these were from the African continent. This represents a significant increase of 48.9% compared to 2022 arrivals.

During the first quarter of 2024 – January to March – South Africa welcomed 2.4million visitors from the rest of the world. This represents a notable 15.4% increase compared with the same period in 2023. 

About the TDDI

The TTDI’s objective is to serve as a crucial benchmarking tool for stakeholders to gauge the progress of the travel and tourism sector. To also inform policy and investment decisions. 

It offers insights into travel and tourism economies’ strengths and areas for improvement. Also the interconnected nature of travel and tourism development and facilitating strategic planning and multi-stakeholder dialogue. This to encourage sustainable and resilient growth at various levels.

The Development Framework of the Index looks at various factors in the travel and tourism economies of countries. These are:

  • Enabling environment (business environment, safety and security and health and hygiene),
  • Travel and Tourism Policy and Enabling Conditions (prioritisation of travel and tourism, openness to travel and tourism and price competitiveness),
  • Infrastructure and Services (air transport infrastructure, ground and port infrastructure and tourist services and infrastructure), and
  • Travel and Tourism Resources.

The TTDI is part of the World Economic Forum’s broader work with industry and government stakeholders. This to build a more sustainable, inclusive, and resilient future for economies and local communities.

Leading Travel & Tourism stakeholder organizations

The report was also developed through input from leading Travel & Tourism stakeholder organisations, thought leaders and data partners. 

“As the South African travel and tourism sector – government and the private sector – we will continue to work with all partners. We will work to further interrogate the TTDI findings and identify the areas where major improvements and work is needed. This in order to further improve South Africa’s ranking. 

We remain committed to growing and affirming South Africa’s status as a leading global travel destination. Growing tourism’s contribution to the economy and job creation in the process,” De Lille concluded. 

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