South Africa - Country Commercial Guide
Travel & Tourism

This is a best prospect overview of industry sectors for this country.

Last published date: 2020-10-01

Overview

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% from FY 2017 to FY  2018 and a further 3% from FY 2018 to FY  2019. Outbound travel presents a good opportunity for the U.S. tourism industry. 

Market Trends

Forecasts indicate an increase in South African outbound travel over the next few years, and industry has taken notice.  
 
In April 2019, United Airlines announced a new route from New York/Newark Liberty International Airport to Cape Town International Airport that started service in December 2019. This is the first non-stop flight between Cape Town and the United States and compliments a number of carriers already in the market. Delta has daily flights from Johannesburg to Atlanta and South African Airways offers direct flights to Washington DC and New York City.  Other airline carriers report an increase of 26% of South African travelers going to the U.S. through their network for the calendar year 2017-2018, and the trend continued in 2019. In May 2020, Delta Airlines announced plans for a new triangular Cape Town – Johannesburg – Atlanta route.
 
The United States remains a popular destination for South African travellers, the most popular type of travel being packaged trips. The duration of stays ranges 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. The inclusion of attractions to major destinations, such as theme parks and tours is preferred, especially amongst first time visitors, while the use of online booking sites such as Viator, is growing in popularity amongst second-time visitors. Also high on the agenda for South African tourists in the U.S. is shopping and family oriented activities. 

In the past, the visa process and the relatively few flights to the U.S. have played a role in the domestic travel industry marketing the U.S. as a travel destination. But the trend is slowly changing as travel agencies are looking for more exposure and new destinations. The U.S. Embassy and consulates across South Africa are working with local partners to better clarify the visa process. The granting of 10-year visas to South Africans also compares favorably to other competing destinations such as the UK and the Far East.  

Travel Statistics

Total Number of South Africans (SA) travelling to the U.S. 2018 - 108,472 

Total spending in the U.S. 2018 - $1,034,000,000  

Top 10 US destinations for South African Travelers 

State City New York New York California Los Angeles Florida Orlando Nevada Las Vegas Illinois Chicago Texas Dallas Maryland Washington DC Georgia Atlanta Louisiana New Orleans Colorado Denver  
 

Web Resources

South African Department of Tourism

https://www.tourism.gov.za/Pages/home.aspx

 

Association of Southern African Travel Agents (ASATA)

https://www.asata.co.za/

 

For More Information, the U.S. Commercial Service, South Africa, can be contacted via email: 

Sanjay.Harryparshad@trade.gov, Phone: +27 (0)31 305 7600 X3150, or visit our Website at http://export.gov/southafrica/index.asp