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SA-bound Batswana increase after sharp decline

Staff Writer
The number of Botswana travellers to South Africa made a quick recovery in three months after declining by a staggering -11.4 percent in the first quarter ending March 2009, reports the latest South African Tourism Index (SATI).

The trend reversed in subsequent months to register an overall growth of 13.1 percent in the first half of the year.

SATI says 74 058 Botswana residents travelled to South Africa from January to July this year, compared to 65 477 in the same period last year. Despite the overall growth in the six months, Botswana travellers to SA had declined by -11.4 percent in the first quarter ending March 2009 as the full impact of the global financial crisis on travellers was felt.

According to the SATI report, the majority of Botswana travellers indicated that the purpose of their visits were leisure (45.1 percent), followed by business (37.1 percent) and medical related visits (4.9 percent) while 11.6 percent falls under 'other'.

However, when the leisure numbers are broken down, no Botswana residents indicated that their visit to South Africa was for holiday purposes in the first quarter. The main reasons for leisure travels was for personal and business related shopping.

The Gauteng province, which has major cities like Johannesburg and Pretoria, remains the most favourite destination for Botswana travellers at 49.3 percent, followed by the nearest province of the North West at 46.9 percent.

Owing to the proximity of towns like Mafikeng, Zeerust and Rusternburg to Gaborone, it is not surprising that Botswana travellers constitute 56.2 percent of all tourists who visited the North West province in the first quater.Botswana and Lesotho are the only southern African countries that declined in the first quarter, contributing to the slower rate of growth for the region. 

The report says the growth in foreign arrivals from mainland southern Africa came from growth in Mozambique 17.3 percent (55,966), Swaziland 1.6 percent (4,334) and Zimbabwe 14.6 percent (40,161).  "Mozambique continued to outperform most countries in the region, with the second largest volume of arrivals (379,749) and the largest growth (55,966)," the South

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African tourism agency says.

Tourism expenditure from the region accounted for an estimated R12, 5 billion and an increase of 6.0 percent from R11, 8 billion in the first quarter of 2008. "The biggest increase in expenditure came from shopping for personal use," the report said.

Looking at the total global arrivals in South Africa in the first quarter, there were just over 2,4 million foreign arrivals, a decline of 2.5 percent (-63,045) compared to that of the same period in 2008.

SA Tourism says this was the first decline in the first quarter since 2004 as South Africa still reported increases from overseas markets in the first quarter of 2008. January 2009 showed an increase of 5.5 percent (46 365) relative to January 2008, but there was a decline of -3.26 (-24,359) in foreign arrivals in February which continued into March for which a decline of -9.8 percent (-85,071) was recorded. "The overall decline in this quarter is in line with the 2 percent decline forecast by the UNWTO (United Nations World Tourism Organisation)," says SA Tourism. 

The agency attributes the decline in foreign arrivals to a decline from Europe by 15.5 percent (-67,714), followed by Asia and Australasia at -13.7 percent (-11,157), the Americas at -12.1 percent (11,814) and Africa air markets at -1.6 percent (1,237). Africa land markets increased by 1.6 percent (27,771).

Against this, foreign tourism expenditure increased by an estimated 7.5 percent to reach R20.1 billion. Expenditure by tourists from Europe declined by 11.1 percent (R0, 6 billion) while revenue from all other regions increased.

Relative to the first quarter of 2008, the Rand depreciated by 32 percent against the US Dollar ($7.5 - $9.9) and 15 percent against the Euro (11.4 - 13.0) in the first quarter of 2009, which contributed to the increase in revenue.



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