Soccer magic scores for S. Africa tourism

| | Updated on: May 09, 2011

The successful hosting of the FIFA World Cup in 2010 was the single most important event responsible for pushing up tourism arrivals in South Africa during the year to 8.1 billion, an increase of 15.1 per cent over the previous year, South Africa's tourism Minister Marthinus van Schalkwyk, announced on Saturday while inaugurating Indaba 2011, Africa's largest travel and tourism show being held in Durban.

The entire city of Durban, particularly its beautiful beachfront has been transformed as trade and business delegates and the international media has descended upon the city to participate in the event hosted by South Africa Tourism.

“We are ready to turn this new potential into long term, sustainable growth,” he added.

On Sunday, at a panel discussion for the media anchored by celebrated journalist Richard Quest, a strategy was spelt out by the top leaders of the country's tourism sector on how they hope to take the tourist arrivals number to 15 million by 2020.

While European tourists have been the mainstay of South African tourism industry, arrivals from the BRICS countries have shown a phenomenal growth.

In January 2011, for example, the arrivals from India, China and Brazil grew by 62, 35 and 21 per cent, respectively.

The arrivals from India in 2010 were 71,587, a growth of 17 per cent over the previous year. Answering a question on direct flights from India to South Africa being too few and only from Mumbai, when there was phenomenal interest from Indians to visit South Africa, an official replied that India was very much on the tourism sector's map and the demand was closely monitored to ensure that South African Airways put much larger aircraft on the Mumbai-Johannesburg sectors whenever necessary.

 On the visa norms being too strict, he admitted that there were “challenges” on this score not only with India but several other countries, but these matters were closely related to ‘bilateral issues and agreements”. 

IPL attraction

The panel as well as South African tour operators confirmed that India was emerging as an important market.

The IPL matches in the previous series that were held in South Africa during which hundreds of Indians had travelled to the country was one of the reasons for the spike in interest in the Indian market.

Large and medium tour operators from India, often in partnership with local tour groups, were regularly sending groups of Indian tourists, and hotels and resorts here were equipping themselves to deal with the preferences of Indians, especially vegetarians.

Taj Cape Town, for example, allows its kitchens to be used by the chefs that some Jain groups bring with them, said Theo Cromhout, Director of Sales and Marketing.

Published on December 14, 2011

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