Johannesburg: The US became South Africa’s number one for the first time in terms of overseas tourism markets in 2021, replacing UK, which had been the number one market since 1994, South African Tourism has said.
The US topped the tourist revenue among the overseas markets in 2021, with 2.3 billion South African rands (about $143.8 million), and the average tourist spending of 31,100 rands was higher than pre-pandemic levels of 22,900 rands in 2019, the government’s tourism marketing arm said in a statement.
The increase was driven by leisure tourism activities and shopping, which increased by 17 per cent and 22 per cent respectively, it said.
The US also led the growth in arrivals in 2021, with a total of 82,020 arrivals, a 14 per cent increase comparing to 2020, according to the agency. However, the total number of arrivals is still much lower than pre-pandemic level, as 373,694 people from the US visited South Africa in 2019, only behind UK’s 436,559.
Statistics showed that in 2021, as it was in 2019, eating out, shopping, wildlife viewing, natural attractions, and socialising were among the top 5 activities that attracted US tourists. First-time visitors from US increased to 70.1 per cent in 2021, read the statement.