The number of Chinese tourists to South Africa plunged in the first quarter, a decline the national statistics agency says may be due to a slowdown in the world’s second-largest economy or fears of contracting the Ebola virus.
South Africa attracted 19 104 Chinese tourists in the first three months of 2015, down 38% from the same period last year, as the total number of tourists dipped 5.9% to 2.29 million, Statistician General Pali Lehohla said.
“We have never seen such as sharp decline from one country ever,” he told reporters in Pretoria, the capital, on Tuesday. “We don’t know what caused it — if it is the drop in the Chinese economy or that they fear Ebola.”
There have been no confirmed cases of Ebola in South Africa since two were reported in 1996.
Tourism may slow even more this year, following the introduction of new rules requiring visitors to apply in person at a visitor center for travel documents, which need to be in English, and for all children to carry a birth certificate with full details of both parents. The impact will only be evident later this year, Lehohla said.
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