South Africa - Country Commercial Guide
Travel & Tourism
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Although a country of 57 million people, relatively few South Africans have the financial resources to travel abroad.  Nonetheless the number of visitors from South Africa travelling to the U.S. increased by 9.6 percent from FY 2017 to FY  2018 and a further 3 percent from FY 2018 to FY  2019.  The COVID-19 pandemic stopped this momentum, shutting down most international travel for parts of 2020, including all direct flights between the United States and South Africa from March 2020 through May 2021.  The pandemic effect was compounded by U.S. entry restrictions on most South African travelers, as well as by a global decline in non-immigrant visa issuances. It is widely expected that the industry will continue to grow from 2022 onwards, with most forecasts predicting that by 2024, the industry should have made up for the losses incurred pre COVID –19.   

Market Trends

In June 2021, United Airlines inaugurated daily service from Newark to Johannesburg as part of the company’s strategy of extending their footprint in emerging markets.  United also operates year-round service to Cape Town.  Delta Air Lines resumed direct flights from Atlanta to Johannesburg in August 2021 and inaugurated service to Cape Town in December 2022.  
Prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, the United States was a popular destination for South African travelers, the most popular type of travel being packaged trips. The duration of stays ranged from 10 days to four weeks, often with at least 2-3 nights in the metropolitan districts of New York, Los Angeles, Miami, Orlando, and Las Vegas. Travelers preferred the inclusion of attractions to major destinations, such as theme parks and tours, especially first-time visitors, while the use of online booking sites is growing in popularity amongst repeat visitors.  

Travel Statistics

Total Number of South Africans (SA) travelling to the U.S.  2022- 80652

Total spending in the U.S. 2022 - $2.11 billion (to include travel, tourism and education spend, according to the United Nations World Travel stats. 

Top 10 US destinations for South African Travelers are:

New York, Los Angeles, Orlando, Las Vegas, Chicago, Dallas, Washington DC, Atlanta, New Orleans, and Denver.


South African Department of Tourism

Association of Southern African Travel Agents (ASATA)


For More Information, the U.S. Commercial Service, South Africa, can be contacted via email:, Phone: +27 (0)31 305 7600 X3150, or visit our website at