South Africa Tourism Boom: 8.5 Million Visitors! Is Now the Time to Go?

South Africa has gradually been easing visa rules for African countries, removing the previous criteria for visitors to prove they have enough funds and show return flight tickets. According to South Africa's Official Tourism Site, the country saw a significant increase in tourism in 2023, with almost 8.5 million visitors, which is 48.9% more compared to the previous year. Of this total, 6.4 million were visitors from other African countries, making up 75.6% of the total arrivals. 

Visitors from Zimbabwe reached 2.1 million, a 70.8% increase compared to 2022. The country also saw a significant growth in visitors from Kenya, with 42,403 visitors between January and December last year.

European tourists exceeded 1.2 million, representing a 38.2% increase compared to 2022. Most of these visitors were from the United Kingdom, Germany, the Netherlands, and Russia.

Tourists from the Americas amounted to 455,901, 39.8% more than in 2022. Of those, 353,975 were from the United States.

Data further show that tourists from Asian countries made 199,308 arrivals, nearly 70% more than in 2022. Among other things, the number of Chinese tourists visiting South Africa increased by 204.9% compared to the previous year, reaching 37,164. Facilities may also explain the growth in tourist numbers throughout 2023.

Why is tourism increasing in South Africa?

Tourism Minister Patricia de Lille expressed contentment with the number of African tourists, noting that their strategic decisions contributed to the growth in certain areas.

In November 2022, South Africa and Kenya achieved a visa waiver agreement. Under this arrangement, citizens from both countries were granted the right of visa-free travel to each other’s nations for more than 90 days within a calendar year. Additionally, in October of last year, South Africa and Ghana came to a similar arrangement that allowed citizens of both nations to enter each other's country without a visa. The passport from South Africa is ranked 97th in the world.

This implies that South African passport holders can travel to 71 countries worldwide visa-free. For the rest of the countries, citizens of South Africa are required to apply for a visa before their trip.

Is South Africa expensive to travel?

The cost of travelling in South Africa might vary based on several factors, including your tastes, style of travel, and the activities you decide to partake in. South Africa has a variety of choices to suit a range of spending levels, from affordable to opulent.


South Africa provides many accommodation options, including budget hostels, guesthouses, boutique hotels, and luxury resorts. Prices can vary according to the location you stay & the level of comfort you seek. Budget accommodations are generally available and affordable, especially in smaller towns and rural areas.


The cost of transportation can also change based on your preferred mode of transportation. Buses and railroads are cheap public transportation, especially for long-distance travel. Renting a car can offer flexibility but may increase rental fees, fuel costs, and insurance. Ride-sharing services are available in major cities and can be convenient and affordable for short distances.

Food and Dining:

South Africa offers various culinary scenes with options to suit different budgets. Street food, local markets, and casual eateries can provide inexpensive yet delicious meals. Dining at mid-range or fine dining restaurants may be pricier but can offer unique culinary experiences, especially in urban centres like Cape Town and Johannesburg.

Activities and Attractions:

The cost of activities and attractions in South Africa can vary widely. Natural attractions like national parks and hiking trails have relatively low entrance fees. Wildlife safaris and guided tours may be more expensive, especially if you opt for luxury accommodations and exclusive experiences. However, budget-friendly options, such as self-drive safaris and group tours, are also available.

Overall Affordability:

While certain aspects of travel in South Africa can be costly, especially if you choose luxury accommodations and high-end experiences, it is possible to travel on a moderate budget by choosing more affordable accommodation, transportation, and dining options. Additionally, South Africa's favourable exchange rate for many foreign currencies can make it a relatively cheap destination for international travellers.

What is the best time to plan to visit South Africa?

Because South Africa has a variety of weather and activities throughout the year, the best time to visit will depend on your travel goals. The seasons and the ideal times to visit are broken down below:

Summer (December to February):

  • This is the peak tourist season in South Africa, characterised by hot weather, especially in the coastal regions.
  • It's an excellent time for beach holidays, wildlife viewing, and outdoor activities.
  • Popular tourist locations, however, may be congested and have more expensive lodging.
  • The Western Cape experiences its rainy season during these months, which can affect outdoor activities in the region.

Autumn (March to May):

  • Autumn is a pleasant time to visit South Africa, with milder temperatures and fewer crowds than summer.
  • Since the vegetation is starting to thin out and makes creatures easier to notice, it's the perfect time of year to see wildlife.
  • The weather remains generally dry, making it suitable for outdoor activities and exploring the countryside

Winter (June to August):

  • Winter is a popular time for safari trips, especially in the Kruger National Park and other game reserves, as the dry weather makes wildlife easier to spot.
  • Coastal regions like Cape Town experience cooler and wetter weather during this time. However, it's still a great time to visit for cultural experiences, wine tasting, and exploring the city.
  • Winter is also the whale-watching season along the Western Cape coast, particularly around Hermanus.

Spring (September to November):

  • Spring is an excellent season in South Africa for outdoor activities and picturesque drives because of the rising temperatures and blossoming flowers.
  • It's a good time for whale watching along the Western Cape coast as the whales migrate north.
  • September is excellent for visiting the Namaqualand region and seeing the spectacular wildflower displays.

The ideal time to travel to South Africa may depend on your tastes and areas of interest. Look into going during the dry winter months to see wildlife. Summer is great for outdoor activities and beach vacations, even with crowds. Autumn and spring are great times to explore the nation's varied landscapes and attractions since they have excellent weather and fewer people.


In conclusion, South Africa's tourism is thriving, fueled by relaxed visa rules and diverse attractions. The country sees millions of visitors yearly, including a surge from African, European, American, and Asian tourists. Travelling in South Africa caters to all budgets, with options ranging from budget stays to luxury resorts and varied culinary and activity choices.


Is it safe to travel to South Africa now?

Yes, South Africa offers a safe and enjoyable experience with sensible precautions, including familiarising oneself with areas to exercise caution, prioritising reputable transportation and accommodation, researching safety tips, and respecting local customs.

What are the must-see attractions in South Africa?

South Africa's diverse landscape caters to various interests. Cape Town is a must-visit with its iconic Table Mountain and vibrant waterfront. Kruger National Park offers unparalleled wildlife encounters, while Johannesburg pulsates with history and cultural richness. Explore the dramatic coastline along the Garden Route, delve into the Winelands of Stellenbosch, or marvel at the otherworldly landscapes of Blyde River Canyon and Namaqualand. Consider your travel style and interests when planning your itinerary to create an unforgettable experience.

How much does it cost to travel to South Africa?

South Africa offers travel experiences for various budgets. Flights and accommodation represent the most significant expenses, with options ranging from budget-friendly hostels and guesthouses to luxury hotels and lodges. Food costs vary depending on your dining choices, from affordable street food to gourmet restaurants. Activities like safaris and adventure tours can add up, so research and plan accordingly. Remember, South Africa offers excellent value compared to other popular tourist destinations.

What is the best time to visit South Africa?

South Africa enjoys diverse climates across its regions, so the ideal time depends on your desired experiences. The summer months (October to April) are suitable for warm weather and beach activities, but expect higher prices and crowds. Fall (May to September) offers pleasant temperatures and fewer crowds, making it ideal for wildlife safaris and outdoor adventures. Winter (June to August) brings cooler temperatures and possible rain, lower prices, and dramatic scenery in regions like the Cape Winelands.

What are the visa requirements for visiting South Africa?

South African visa requirements vary depending on your citizenship and intended stay duration. Many nationalities, including those from the US, UK, and EU, can obtain a visa on arrival for short stays. However, verifying specific requirements with your nearest South African embassy or consulate well in advance is crucial, ensuring you possess the necessary documentation and adhere to regulations.

To obtain a South Africa eVisa

  • Step1: Complete the online application by providing your passport details.

  • Step2: Submit payment online using a credit card.

  • Step3: Monitor your email for confirmation of payment and receipt of your eVisa, which will be sent electronically.

Get eVisa to South Africa