The first year of the air service has exceeded operational and commercial expectations
Sales of tickets in the first year were healthy and resulted in a small profit, which will be shared between St Helena Government and SA Airlink
3,831 arrivals and 3,818 departures by air, compared to 2,539 arrivals and 2,451 departures by the RMS in 2017 � more than a 50% increase
More than twice as many non-Saint tourists arrived by air, compared to the RMS in 2017 (992 vs 416
More than twice as many Saints living overseas arrived for holiday purposes by air, compared to arrivals on the RMS in 2017 (1,064 vs 495)
Almost two-thirds (64%) of all visitors rented a car, while a further 24% used taxis. A small proportion used the bus service
30,943 nights were spent by leisure visitors arriving by air and departing in 2018. Of those, 10,663 nights were spent by non-Saint tourists
Leisure visitors arriving by air spent an estimated Pound 4m on St Helena, Pound 1.6m by non-Saints, and Pound 2.4m by St Helenians living overseas
On average, leisure visitors spent around Pound 130 per night
More than half of air arrivals in 2018 were for leisure. 27% were Saints living overseas on holiday, 26% were non-Saint tourists, 23% arrived for a business purpose, 21% were returning residents, and 3% were in transit to another destination
Over a quarter of leisure visitors stayed in hotels and guest houses in 2018 and almost two thirds stayed in private or self-catering accommodation
The average length of stay on St Helena of tourists (non-St Helenian) was around 11 nights
Sightseeing (64% of all visitors), Post Box Walks (44%) and photography (28%) were the most popular activities undertaken whilst on St Helena
The definition of 'Leisure Visitors' includes both non-Saint Helenian tourists, and Saint Helenians living overseas visiting for a holiday. There were 2056 leisure visitors in 2018.
While the average length of stay for non-Saint tourists departing St Helena in 2018 was around 11 nights, the introduction of a second weekly flight during peak season also gives visitors the option of three, four, seven or ten night stays (or indeed longer) on St Helena. Results from a survey of departing visitors at St Helena Airport also shows that the most popular activities on St Helena in 2018 were Sightseeing, Post Box Walks, Photography and History Tours. The survey also includes questions on visitor expenditure; visitors spent an average of around Pound 130 per night, with an economic contribution of Pound 4m per year.
It has been estimated, through a study of the South Atlantic Natural Capital Assessment, that around 50% of the money that leisure visitors spend stays on St Helena, and that the remaining 50% is used to buy imports, and so leaves the Island.
Tourism is important for St Helena's future economic growth, but so are other export and import substitution sectors. The Island is focusing on sustainable and gradual growth in tourism alongside growth of other sectors such as the digital economy, research, coffee growing, fishing and agriculture, as set out in the Sustainable Economic Development Plan 2018-28.
Origin of travel
According to the Air Visitor Departure Survey 2018, almost one half of all journeys commenced in London, with a further 20% starting in South Africa (Johannesburg and Cape Town).
Whilst 63% of all visitors were only travelling to St Helena on their trip, a notable 37% were visiting at least one other country. Of these, the most popular country visited was South Africa.
Arrival and departure figures for 2018 are compiled and published by the Statistics Office, based on records from the St Helena Police Immigration Office.
The data file is available on the SHG website via the following link: http://www.sainthelena.gov.sh/wp-content/uploads/2019/01/Population-22012019.xlsx
Data on the preferences and expenditures of visitors to St Helena are taken from preliminary results from the Air Visitor Departure Survey, conducted by the Tourism Office of Enterprise St Helena.
Source: St Helena Government