How’s South Africa’s tourism industry faring?

In 2010, the FIFA World Cup was held in South Africa and helped to show the country in a public light to the world, following years of social and political unrest. Prior to the tournament there was still the belief that South Africa was not a place safe for tourists, but this was changed after an incredibly successful tournament.

People came to visit in their droves, and the tourism industry grew hugely as a result. However, the current growth rates appears to have stagnated. The number of foreign visitors holidaying in South Africa stand at around 2%, which is 5% lower than the world average.

That said, South Africa remains a popular hot spot for foreign visitors, with over 10 million foreign tourists visiting the country in 2017. Tourism still plays a huge role in the country – both in terms of GDP and employment. It contributes around 3% of South Africa’s GDP, and employs 687,000 people, which is more than other key industries such as mining.


Stunning views, tremendous vineyards, incredible wildlife and an enticing exchange rate all provide an allure to foreign tourists – these are just some of the reasons so many people explore South Africa every year.

Let’s take a look at some of the most popular tourist spots in the country.

Kruger National Park

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Sprawling across Limpopo and Mpumalanga provinces, Kruger National Park is one of the largest game reserves in the continent of Africa, covering nearly 8,000 square miles. The area was part of the last wild frontier in the Transvaal before the Second Boer War.

It was made a wildlife sanctuary by President Paul Kruger in 1898 and since then it has been illegal to hunt game in the region. The parks commitment to conservation gives it a unique appeal to tourists, as well as the opportunity to see some of the Big Five in the area.

The African lion, elephant, buffalo, leopard and rhinoceros all roam the Kruger National Park and tourists can view them on a walking tour or a guided driving tour. The vast majority of businesses in the surrounding area owe their existence to the tourism brought in by the Kruger National Park.

Did you know? Over 1.4 million foreign tourists visited the Kruger National Park in 2017.

The Cape of Good Hope

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This has long been recognised as the southern-most point of Africa, where the Atlantic and Indian Oceans meet. Although technically not the most southern point of Africa, the capes coastal cliffs provide a stunning vista.

Surfers from around the world travel to the cape to ride the impressive waves that thrash into the cliffs. For those tourists who aren’t the thrill-seeking type, there are 11 troops of Chacma Baboons. The 375 animals roam around the park situated on the cape but are on the critically endangered list.

Did you know? The Cape of Good Hope is home to the Flying Dutchman, a legendary ghost ship pirated by tormented sailors.

Robben Island

Just West of Bloubergstrand, Cape Island lies the Oval shaped Robben Island, a place synonymous with the recent history of South Africa. Throughout its long history, the island has been populated by many peoples.

Firstly, ancient man settled on the island, but after the cognitive revolution Robben Island became a political prison, a leper colony, an army base and latterly a political prison again.

In 1962 Nelson Mandela was sentenced prison for conspiring to overturn the government. He served 18 years of his 27 years behind bars in Robben Island prison, before his release and subsequent rise to the position of South African President.

Today it’s one of the most historic places to see in the country – and a must-have on anyone’s South Africa bucket list.

Did you know? One of the first recorded prisoners on Robben Island was imprisoned for leading a mutiny on a slave ship in 1766.

Sun City Casino

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Two hours’ drive from Johannesburg is Sun City, a luxurious resort with two casinos, hotels and a game reserve. The resort is a popular haunt for foreign and domestic tourists, as it is home to the best casinos in South Africa.

While Sun City is not the only gaming hotspot in Africa, it’s certainly the most visually dramatic. It’s a sprawling complex of hotels, restaurants and Vegas-style shows on the edge of Pilanesberg Game Reserve. Initially set up in 1979 by local hotel owner Sol Kerzner, Sun City is the perfect place to rest and relax for tourists before heading off to the great vineyards of Rustenberg.

From blackjack to baccarat, to roulette and slot machines – Sun City holds its own against the casino powerhouses of Vegas and Macau, drawing in millions of visitors every year.

Due to its huge success, the government relies on it for revenue. Land-based casino gambling currently account for for 70% of the total gambling revenue in South Africa. As such, online gambling is prohibited in the country – despite the fact it’s grown exponentially across the world.

In the UK, online casinos give players the freedom and convenience of playing games like poker, blackjack and roulette from the comfort of their own home, or via their mobile device if they want to play remotely. What’s more, these games are more engaging and immersive than ever – with an increasingly realistic environment replicating the genuine casino experience, which draws more visitors in and provides more revenue.

Online gambling has flourished in the UK, despite its heavily regulated industry. At the last count, online gambling accounted for one-third of all gambling revenue, according to the Gambling Commission. There are many online casinos out there, and competition has driven up the quality of gameplay for gamers. For example, 888 is a leading online casino in the UK – check it out and you’ll see why online gambling has been so popular.

If South Africa wants to give its gambling industry a further boost, it should consider making it legal for any online casino to operate there. There’s a huge opportunity for it to drive gambling revenue – as it’s done in the UK – for the country to invest in tourism.

Did you know? The worldwide gross gambling yield for 2019 is expected to reach 130 billion US dollars.



Situated in the Stellenbosch region is the Rustenberg wine estate, first established in 1682, the winery is nestled in the valley of the Simonsberg Mountain. The Rustenberg estate was first used to produce wine in the 17th-century by a German entrepreneur named Roelof Pasman.

During the 19th-century the estate suffered from the Phylloxera disease that was destroying vineyards across Western Europe and largely fell into disuse. Towards the end of the century, future Prime Minister of the Cape John X Merriman rescued the vineyards and returned them to their former glory by crafting disease free American rootstocks.

The winery is now known all over the world for producing typically South African Chardonnay’s and some of the best Bordeaux blends in the world.

Did you know? Every bottle of wine produced in South Africa has a sticker on the neck confirming it has been made sustainably.

Tsitsikamma National Park

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This coastal reserve, situated on the southern coast of South Africa is a protected area on the famous garden route. The park is known for stunning views of oceanic cliffs, land-based and marine wildlife reserves and mesmerising waterfalls.

The best way for visitors to enjoy the area is by walking one of the many trails around the park, the most popular of which is the otter trail. If visitors are brave enough, they can walk over the suspension bridge on the lookout trail, which looks out over the mouth of the river.

Whales and dolphins can be regularly spotted from the suspension bridge and various other lookout points. The park provides an important economic boost for the local area with many inhabitants being employed by the tourism trade.

Restaurants, shops, chalets, camp sites and adventure companies all operate in Tsitsikamma National Park, bringing in money from foreign tourists.

Did you know? BBC documentary series Blue Planet filmed at Tsitsikamma National Park to show the migration of whales.