Original Research

Who are the big spending tourists travelling to South Africa?

Alicia Fourie, Melville Saayman, Elmarie Slabbert
Journal of Economic and Financial Sciences | Vol 11, No 1 | a205 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.4102/jef.v11i1.205 | © 2018 Alicia Fourie, Melville Saayman, Elmarie Slabbert | This work is licensed under CC Attribution 4.0
Submitted: 06 April 2018 | Published: 14 November 2018

About the author(s)

Alicia Fourie, School of Economics, North-West University, South Africa; and, Tourism Research in Economic Environs and Society, North-West University, South Africa
Melville Saayman, Tourism Research in Economic Environs and Society, North-West University, South Africa
Elmarie Slabbert, Tourism Research in Economic Environs and Society, North-West University, South Africa; and, School of Tourism Management, North-West University, South Africa

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Orientation: Tourism growth is not just about numbers anymore; it is about utilising the economic potential of every tourist visiting South Africa. This country needs to target the most lucrative markets to benefit economic growth.

Research purpose: This article aims to identify the big spenders with reference to demographic characteristics and tourist destination preferences.

Motivation for the study: The number of tourists to South Africa increases annually. However this is not evident in an increase in job opportunities or tourism products. The tourism industry also indicated that they receive less tourists. Therefore the increase in tourists do not necessarily lead to an increase in income which might relate to the type of tourist received.

Research design, approach and method: A quantitative survey was done amongst international visitors leaving South Africa at O.R. Tambo International Airport, to which a two-step clustering method was applied.

Main findings: Two spending groups were identified namely big spenders and average spenders. Big spenders are characterised by a specific demographic profile of being single, better qualified, in a professional occupation, and male. They tend to prefer visiting the iconic natural attractions where they spend significantly more than the average spenders.

Practical/managerial implications: The implication of this study is that tourism bodies should focus more direct marketing efforts on the big spenders and provide products that suit the needs of this target market.

Contribution/value-add: Effective market segmentation based on spending provide insight to markets that will create a high return on investment and this will directly contribute to the economic growth of the industry and alleviate poverty.


expenditure-based segmentation; spending behaviour; international tourist; attractions; poverty alleviation


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