Abstract: The business of international tourism is a growth industry and key driver for economic development in many countries. For national and local policy makers the attraction of international tourists is of major importance for economic and social development. Understanding the flows and impacts of international tourism is a vibrant issue in global tourism scholarship. Although the global flows of international tourism are well documented, much less understood are the spatial patterns of international tourists within national territories. The objective in this paper is to analyse scientifically the overall economic geography of international tourism flows in South Africa. An uneven geographical pattern of development of international tourism is disclosed for the period 2001-2012. In interpreting this spatial distribution it is argued that a conceptual distinction be drawn between the different mobilities of South Africa’s cohorts of long haul as opposed to regional African visitors. The economic geography of international tourism in South Africa is a composite of these two sets of visitors and of their differential flows variously for purposes of leisure, business and VFR travel.