Donald Trump’s victory in America’s presidential race sees him taking office in January 2017. Questions around what the 45th US president’s occupancy will mean for markets, trade and tourism the world over have already emerged, and the effects on South Africa’s travel sector are no different.
However, South Africa still remains one of the top travel destinations in terms of value for money for America citizens – actor Samuel L Jackson went so far as to swear he’d relocate to SA should Trump succeed Barack Obama, on talk show Jimmy Kimmel Live! With the pound getting a boost following the election results, having taken a beating since Brexit, several countries have become more appealing to travellers, including SA, Australia, Sweden, Madagascar, Norway and Canada, whose immigration site crashed after the Republican’s win.
Eight African leaders have since congratulated the new president, the first being Burundian President Pierre Nkurunziza, via Twitter. President Jacob Zuma was another. On Wednesday morning, the Department of International Relations and Cooperation said in a statement: “President Jacob Zuma has today, on behalf of the government and the people of South Africa, congratulated president-elect Donald Trump for winning the presidential elections that were held in the United States on 8 November 2016.” It added that he “looked forward to working closely with the new US administration in promoting peace, security and prosperity around the world, especially on the African continent”. This, despite Trump’s comments in 2013 regarding South Africa’s state of crime.
As I have long been saying, South Africa is a total – and very dangerous – mess. Just watch the evening news (when not talking weather).
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) April 20, 2015
Waahida Mbatha, moved to Cape Town, South Africa, from America five years ago however. She relocated to Johannesburg, where she and her husband founded university preparatory school Kgololo Academy in Alexandra township. “People have a fear of the unknown, but it’s only positive experiences I’ve had while in South Africa,” she shared, adding that she believed that Trump’s past comments and recent win were “not enough to deter people from coming to South Africa”.
While import tariffs may be increased to encourage local production within the United States, as a tourist attraction South Africa may become even more important for economic growth as the markets wait to see the direction Trump will take with foreign trade. Earlier this year, American tourist numbers to SA increased by 18%, compared to 2015. Inbound US tourists visiting SA for up to 90 days do not require a visa, be it for business or leisure travel. The dollar-rand exchange also remains substantially affordable for Americans.