Weak rand entices more Brits to South Africa

South Africa UK visitors
By Linsey McNeill
15/05/2024
Home » Weak rand entices more Brits to South Africa

South Africa is seeing a significant growth in travel from the UK, which has leapfrogged the US to become the country’s largest overseas market.

In the first quarter of this year, more than 125,000 Brits visited South Africa, a 5% increase over the same period of last year. From the US – South Africa’s largest overseas market pre-COVID – there were 118,000 visitors, although this was up 12% year on year.

Speaking at the travel trade show Africa’s Travel Indaba on Tuesday, South Africa Tourism Minister Patricia de Lille said the favourable exchange rate for British visitors was one of the reasons for its growing popularity.

“When you come here you are really getting value for money and British visitors are able to afford our five-star hotels,” she said.

Her words were echoed by UK operators attending Indaba this week, who agreed that while South Africa’s safari parks and some hotels have ramped up their rates post-pandemic, it is still one of the most affordable African countries.

Claire Farley, owner of 2by2 Holidays said: “It is ridiculously cheap, you don’t get such good value anywhere else in Africa because other countries price in dollars but here and in Namibia the pricing is in rand, which has been weak for some time now.”

While Kenya is often the first choice for new-to-safari customers, Claire said many are now considering South Africa instead, due to the cost. 

“Kenya has just shot itself in the foot by hugely increasing its park fees, and that has been reflected in increased bookings for South Africa,” added Claire.

The Tourism Minister said improving air access is the South African Government’s ‘number one priority’. At the moment, British Airways and Virgin Atlantic operate daily flights to both Johannesburg and Cape Town, but there are no direct flights to Durban.

Air capacity will increase from 28 October when Norse Air launches flights from London Gatwick to Cape Town, but there are currently no firm plans for the cash-strapped national carrier South African Airways to relaunch services to the UK, said Ms de Lille.

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