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South Africa Tourist Arrivals Reach Record After World Cup

Tourist arrivals in South Africa rose to a record last year as the country built on its success of hosting the 2010 soccer World Cup and attracted more visitors from Asia, Tourism Minister Marthinus van Schalkwyk said.

The number of international visitors increased 3 percent to 8.34 million in 2011, after rising 15 percent the year before, Van Schalkwyk told reporters in Cape Town today. Arrivals from China surged 24 percent to 84,883 and from India by 26 percent to 90,367.

“The 2010 FIFA World Cup was a once-in-a-lifetime global showcase for our country, which gave us unprecedented international media exposure,” the minister said. The tournament also “left us with modern world-class tourist infrastructure.”

South Africa aims to attract 15 million foreign visitors annually and for the tourism industry’s contribution to Africa’s largest economy to more than double to 499 billion rand ($63 billion) by 2020. Even so, “the economic climate remains difficult and competition for tourist arrivals remains fierce,” Van Schalkwyk said.

The number of visitors from the U.K., South Africa’s largest tourist market, slumped 7.2 percent to almost 420,500 last year, the minister said. He cited a slowing U.K. economy and increased air passenger duty taxes for deterring travel.

Tourist arrivals from Germany rose 9.3 percent to almost 236,000 last year, while those from the U.S. increased 1.9 percent to 287,614, he said.

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