Durban, KZN, South Africa - Cityscape
Durban, KZN, South Africa - Cityscape Magda Ehlers/

Minister of Tourism Patricia de Lille on Thursday celebrated a report by the World Economic Forum, revealing that South Africa ranked highest in the African region on the 2024 Travel and Tourism Development Index (TTDI).

"We are extremely pleased with this ranking as it affirms our commitment and work to elevate the significance and contribution of the tourism sector in South Africa," she said, SA News reported.

Among 119 countries across the world, South Africa ranks 55, leading the African continent in the second edition of an index by the World Economic Forum. According to the report, South Africa has become home to the largest Travel and Tourism Economy in Africa.

South Africa last year welcomed nearly 8.5 million international visitors, with 6.4 million coming from other African countries. This marked a massive increase of 48.9% compared to 2022. In the first quarter of 2024 (January to March), South Africa had 2.4 million visitors from around the world. This is a 15.4% increase compared to the same period in 2023.

"The tourism sector has achieved robust growth over the past year and this is due to closer partnerships and collaborations with the private sector to grow tourism to its full potential," the minister said.

In the 2024 Index, South Africa improved by seven spots from its previous ranking and the country scored high for price competitiveness, Information and Communication Technology (ICT) readiness, natural resources and travel and tourism socio-economic impact.

The minister emphasized that the tourism department is "delighted by the growth and our mission remains to exponentially grow arrival numbers and the overall performance of the tourism sector."

"The sector already makes a significant contribution to South Africa's Gross Domestic Product (GDP) and job creation efforts but there is still so much more to be done," she said. "We have been working closer with the private sector and we are bearing fruit."

She went on to thank the tourism private sector stakeholders for working hard and collaborating with the government to grow this exciting and important sector.

The minister noted that South Africa's tourism sector was one of the greatest assets for the citizens of the country, promising that the department will continue to grow and ensure that contribution coming from tourism added to the prosperity of people and the planet.