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Shopping tourism or tourists shopping? A case study of South Africa's African tourism market

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Tourism to South Africa has increased consistently over the last 15 years and the country has become one of the most popular tourist destinations, not only in Africa, but also in the world. With 10 million tourists visiting South Africa, tourism has grown to become an important industry, contributing more than 8% to the country's gross domestic product (GDP); it has even surpassed earnings from gold exports as an important source of foreign exchange. A closer inspection of the arrivals statistics reveals that the majority (75%) of tourists are from Africa. In addition, 75% of all African tourists are from South Africa's neighbouring countries. However, most research on tourism to South Africa focuses on intercontinental arrivals. Among the reasons cited for the exclusion of African tourists is that these tourists visit South Africa for reasons other than tourism, such as shopping, business and study. This research addresses this shortcoming by analysing the trends in arrivals and spending by African tourists to South Africa. The paper sheds light on the reasons why African tourists travel to South Africa and shows the important role of South Africa as a wholesaler for Africa. It is postulated that the link between trade and tourism is much stronger for South Africa and its neighbours than is the case for other countries.


Document Type: Research Article


Publication date: December 1, 2012

More about this publication?
  • Tourism Economics, published bimonthly, is a peer-reviewed journal devoted to the economics and finance of tourism worldwide. Articles address the components of the tourism product (accommodation; restaurants; merchandizing; attractions; transport; entertainment; tourist activities); and the economic organization of tourism at micro and macro levels (market structure; role of public/private sectors; community interests; strategic planning; marketing; finance; economic development).

    Fast Track. Tourism Economics Fast Track papers have been peer-reviewed, revised and fully accepted for publication. However, although these are the final versions from the authors, they are unedited manuscripts and will undergo a rigorous editing process before their appearance in an issue of the journal. This means that the Fast Track manuscripts may not conform to journal style in terms of presentation, spelling and other usages. They may also contain errors of typography, grammar, spelling, referencing, etc, all of which will be corrected in the processes of copy-editing and proofreading.
    Tourism Economics operates a Fast Track online publication system so that papers can be published and made available almost immediately on final acceptance by the journal. Each Fast Track article is given a DOI. When the paper is assigned to an issue, this DOI will automatically be transferred to the article in the journal issue.
    Fast Track articles may be cited using the DOI. Citations should include the author's or authors' name(s), the title of the article, the title of the journal followed by the words Fast Track, the year of Fast Track publication and the DOI. For example:

    Smith, J. (2013), Article title, Tourism Economics Fast Track, DOI xxxxxxxx.

    Once the paper has been published in an issue of the journal, the DOI will automatically resolve to that final version and the article can be cited in accordance with normal bibliographical conventions.

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