South African Tourism Trumpets U.S. Arrivals as the Destination Sprints Towards its Global Recovery Goal by 2024

Advocacy Engagements Across Washington D.C., Los Angeles, Las Vegas, and Atlanta Solidify North America as South Africa’s Fastest Growing Market

WASHINGTON, Aug. 15, 2023 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) -- As South Africa continues to make tremendous strides towards its 2024 global recovery goal, the North American team from South African Tourism reinforced the destination’s commitment to its fastest growing market through a series of advocacy engagements in key American cities including Washington D.C., Los Angeles, Las Vegas, and Atlanta. Delegates reiterated the destination’s welcoming invitation to North American travelers by showcasing their uniquely South African brand of warmth and hospitality to trade, media, and stakeholders in this important market. 

“In the first half of 2023 we’ve exceeded expectations for tourism arrivals to South Africa from the U.S., almost reaching pre-pandemic levels,” said Jerry Mpufane, President of South African Tourism North America. “We’re placing a strong emphasis on continuing to attract U.S. travelers by engaging with key partners and stakeholders in gateway and feeder markets. Our efforts, in particular, are focused on strengthening potent growing markets like the Black American traveler, a segment of the U.S. traveler market that is keen to explore South Africa’s culture and history.” 

In Washington D.C., the South African Tourism delegates joined representatives from the Embassy of South Africa and Future of Black Tourism for the inaugural E3 Leadership Conclave. The team hosted a lively evening at the Embassy of South Africa where attendees gathered to amplify the message of equity, economics and education required to fuel the future of Black tourism, a growing billion-dollar market segment for the tourism industry. Recent years have seen an awakening of Black Americans to the possibilities of travel to Africa, reflecting a deep affinity between Black Americans and the ancestral homeland. 

“The work of Future of Black Tourism is of paramount importance to not only South Africa but the tourism industry as a whole,” said Stephanie M. Jones, Founder and CEO of the Cultural Heritage Economic Alliance, Inc. (CHEA) and Blacks in Travel & Tourism. “We are grateful for the opportunity to work alongside our South African friends to shed light on the importance of advocating for this underserved market in the travel industry. In 2019, Black American leisure travelers spent $109.4 billion on travel, 13.1 percent of the U.S. leisure travel market and its growth potential is even more impressive due to the growing appetite amongst Black travelers to reconnect with their cultural roots. Now, more than ever, Black American travelers have become intentional in choosing to experience South Africa over other destinations.”

The participating founders, CEOs and industry leaders met with members of the South African Tourism delegation to learn more about South Africa’s rich cultural heritage and exceptional tourism offerings. Throughout the evening, attendees advanced the conversation of economic opportunities for Black-led travel and tourism businesses, and the targeted investment and cross-sector collaboration that is imperative to ensure that Black travel and tourism experts continue to build on their share of voice in the industry. Data from MMGY Global indicates that Black travelers from the US spent over $100 billion in 2019 and with tourism rebounding, the evening’s conversations largely focused on the trends that are influencing the growth in this market. 

“In May I had the pleasure to travel out to Durban, South Africa for Africa’s Travel Indaba and the experience left a lasting impression,” said Dianna Ward, a member of the inaugural E3 Leadership Conclave. “I felt an almost overwhelming sense of connection to the country and its people. It was on a spiritual level and since that visit I've been encouraging my clients and friends to set their sights towards South Africa.” 

While in Los Angeles meeting with media and stakeholders, Jerry Mpufane, President of South African Tourism North America, shared that arrival figures for 2023 continue to surpass expectations, with over 350,000 Americans having already visited South Africa as of May 2023 representing 94% of arrivals in the same period in 2019. Demand from the U.S. has grown significantly from 2019, with the U.S. now outpacing the United Kingdom on traveler spend in-destination at restaurants, shopping, wildlife, and visiting natural attractions.

Following, the delegation joined fellow leading luxury tourism professionals at Virtuoso Travel Week in Las Vegas to engage in a week of one-on-one appointments with travel advisors, and to meet and network with tour operators and media representatives to share destination updates.

At Virtuoso Travel Week, the South African Tourism delegation joined a collection of African products and suppliers to present an Africa Lunch, this exclusive event was attended by top travel advisors who specialize in Africa and have exhibited expertise in successfully selling travel to the continent. Participants engaged in a spirited discussion, learning more about the offerings available from South Africa in particular to grow their current business.

From Las Vegas the delegation traveled back to the east coast to the city of Atlanta, a key market for South Africa. Delta Air Lines increased its capacity to South Africa by 67% last year as demand for the destination grew. Today, Delta Air Lines operates several direct routes to South Africa and even launched a triangle route from Atlanta to Johannesburg to Cape Town that now operates four times a week. 

South Africa continues to grow in its appeal to U.S. travelers as it is truly a destination that offers up a plethora of unique experiences. Adventurous travelers can dive with Great Whites or spot the Big-5 on safaris in Kruger National Park, history buffs can visit the home of Nelson Mandela, one of the most famous freedom fighters in history, and culture vultures can visit world-class museums to learn about South African art, music, history and more. A visit to South Africa is truly the trip of a lifetime and that’s a message that’s resonating with U.S. travelers. 

South African Tourism is the national agency responsible for marketing South Africa as a preferred leisure and business events destination. From breathtaking beauty and sun-soaked coasts to wildlife and adventure to vibrant urban energy and the incredible warmth and cultural diversity of its people – South Africa is a traveler’s dream! Destination South Africa offers a wide variety of experiences including safaris in 19 national parks, breathtaking diverse scenic outdoor spaces, vibrant modern designer cities, an amazing 2,500-kilometer coastline with Blue Flag beaches, inspiring heritage and cultural journeys as well as active adventure experiences and vacation offering impressive value for time and money at any budget.

Future of Black Tourism brings together Black travel, tourism and hospitality leaders and allies to work collaboratively to identify, share and create collective economic opportunities for its members to actively participate and profit in the global travel and tourism industry, and to build capacity to sustain, grow and invest in Black-led travel, tourism and hospitality organizations and businesses. Learn more at

Justin Barnette, Head: Marketing & Comms North America, South African Tourism 

Margot Delville, Account Director, MMGY NJF

A photo accompanying this announcement is available at

The photo is also available at Newscom,, and via AP PhotoExpress.