Tourism in South Africa

South Africa recorded a total of 10 million tourists in 2018, ranking 40th in the world in absolute terms.

Without including the size of a country, such a ranking list may not be very meaningful. By putting the tourist numbers in relation to the population of South Africa, the result is much more comparable picture: With 0.18 tourists per resident, South Africa ranked 126th in the world. In Southern Africa, it ranked 5th.

South Africa generated around 9.79 billion US Dollar in the tourism sector alone. This corresponds to 2.7 percent of its the gross domestic product.



Back to overview: South Africa

The most popular city in South Africa for international travelers is Johannesburg. In 2018 it reached the 54th place of the world's most popular cities with 4.12 million tourists.

Development of the tourism sector in South Africa from 1995 to 2018

The following chart shows the number of tourist arrivals registered in South Africa each year. Anyone who spends at least one night in the country but does not live there for more than 12 months is considered a tourist. Insofar as the survey included the purpose of the trip, business trips and other non-tourism travel purposes have already been excluded. The number of people passing through within the same day, and e.g. crew members of ships or flights are also not considered as tourists in most countries. If the same person travels in and out more than once within the same year, each visit counts again.

Data in the chart are given in millions of tourists. The red line represents the average of all 5 countries in Southern Africa.

Tourists per year in South Africa

Revenues in tourism

In 1995, tourism revenues amounted to 2.65 billion USD, or about 1.7 percent of the gross national product. This corresponded to about 4.49 million tourists at that time and roughly 591 USD per person. Within 23 years, the country's dependence on tourism has increased noticeably. In the last year of the survey, the revenue now amounts to 9.79 billion USD, accounting for 2.7 percent of the gross national product. Each visitor now spends an average of 935 USD for his holiday in South Africa.

Tourism receipts in South Africa per year

All data for South Africa in detail

YearNumber of touristsReceipts% of GNPReceipts per tourist
19954.49 m2.65 bn $1.7 %591 $
19964.92 m3.14 bn $2.1 %638 $
19974.98 m3.42 bn $2.2 %688 $
19985.73 m3.42 bn $2.5 %596 $
19995.89 m3.41 bn $2.5 %578 $
20005.87 m3.34 bn $2.4 %568 $
20015.79 m3.26 bn $2.7 %563 $
20026.43 m3.70 bn $3.2 %575 $
20036.51 m6.67 bn $3.8 %1,026 $
20046.68 m7.57 bn $3.3 %1,134 $
20057.37 m8.63 bn $3.3 %1,171 $
20068.40 m9.21 bn $3.4 %1,097 $
20079.09 m10.23 bn $3.4 %1,125 $
20089.59 m9.18 bn $3.2 %957 $
20097.01 m8.68 bn $2.9 %1,238 $
20108.07 m10.31 bn $2.7 %1,277 $
20118.34 m10.71 bn $2.6 %1,284 $
20129.19 m11.20 bn $2.8 %1,219 $
20139.54 m10.47 bn $2.9 %1,098 $
20149.55 m10.48 bn $3.0 %1,098 $
20158.90 m9.14 bn $2.9 %1,027 $
201610.04 m8.81 bn $3.0 %877 $
201710.29 m9.71 bn $2.8 %944 $
201810.47 m9.79 bn $2.7 %935 $


All data correspond to the information of the World Tourism Organization.