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Tourists increase their card spend on SA travel

By Staff Writer

Taking advantage of a significant tourism opportunity surrounding the 2010 FIFA World Cup™, South Africa saw a 23 percent increase in spending by international travelers using their Visa cards in 2010 according to the Tourism Outlook: South Africa report released by Visa Inc. (NYSE: V) today. According to the report, international Visa cardholders increased tourism spending from $1.8 billion in 2009 to $2.2 billion in 2010.

According to data from the first half of 2011, the momentum established during the tournament has had a lasting effect on the South African tourism economy. January-June spending levels in 2011 were very close to those of the first half of 2010 and were significantly higher than same period spending in 2009.

“In 2010, South Africa capitalised on the significant tourism opportunity presented by hosting the 2010 FIFA World Cup™, inspiring international adventurers to discover the country’s magnificent landscape and warm climate,” said Mandy Lamb, Country Manager, Visa Sub - Saharan Africa. “As a legacy sponsor of the tournament and partner to the South African tourism industry, Visa worked closely with merchants to create a seamless retail environment and provided tourism authorities with real-time spend data, enabling the country to create targeted marketing and business plans to better serve the needs of their international guests.”

Where Visitors Come From

According to this year’s Tourism Outlook: South Africa 2011 report, Visa cardholders from the United Kingdom ($536M), the U.S. ($325M) and Germany ($95.8M) were the top three contributors to South Africa’s tourism economy in 2010.  However, of the top ten inbound source countries, four were surrounding African nations, including: Botswana ($83.6M), Mozambique ($78.6M), Namibia ($66.2M) and Angola ($53.6M).

While cardholders from these countries contributed the most total spend amounts to South African tourism. Of the top 25 source countries, the biggest year-over-year growth came from Zimbabwe (217%), Angola (132%), Brazil (112%) and China (80%).

While tourism spending in South Africa by international Visa cardholders was on the rise in 2010, cardholders decreased spending on airline related purchases by seven percent. Stretched over nine cities and 10 stadiums throughout the country, VisaVue spending data suggests that once cardholders arrived to South Africa for the tournament, they opted to drive from game to game, experiencing the unique destinations and sights along the way. Visa cardholders traveling to South Africa increased spending on rental cars by 23 percent, from $52.9 million to $65.1 million. Simultaneously, cardholders increased spending on fuel purchases by an astonishing 314 percent growth.

Tourism Impact: The 2010 FIFA World Cup™

Hosting a mega sporting event such as the 2010 FIFA World Cup™ is often a cause for excitement and optimism. Throughout the event, the country’s streets and shopping centers buzzed with more than the sound of vuvuzelas. They were vibrant and full of life from the international visitors spending on their Visa cards across the 159,000 merchants that accept Visa payment cards in South Africa.[1] In fact, within the first ten days of the tournament (June 11 - June 20, 2010), the amount spent by international visitors on their Visa cards increased by 81 percent compared to the same period in 2009.

While the FIFA World Cup™ played a significant role in the growth experienced in June and July of 2010, tourist arrivals were amplified all year round. Spending levels by international Visa cardholders traveling to South Africa in December 2010 ($220M) and January 2011 ($220M) even rivaled the June and July FIFA World Cup™ months.

As the South African tourism industry works to sustain the vigorous momentum spurred during 2010, Visa is committed to supporting its growth by providing a secure and reliable digital currency for cross-border transactions and access to millions of cardholders globally and partnering with the South African tourism industry to provide relevant spending data to help them take advantage of new tourism opportunities created by the tournament.

“We will continue to support the South African tourism industry in the coming year by providing insights from Visa Vue travel data, which provides unique insight into International travellers spending habits,” concluded Lamb.

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