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China becomes key tourism source market to S. Africa

         Date: 2012-09-25

           Tag: China tourism source, Africa market

Summary: China has grown into one of the most important tourism source markets for South Africa, as Chinese tourists doubled in number over the past decade, a South African tourism official said Monday.

 China has grown into one of the most important tourism source markets for South Africa, as Chinese tourists doubled in number over the past decade, a South African tourism official said Monday.

"The Chinese tourist arrivals so far this year have grown by 73 percent when compared to the same period in 2011, building a solid foundation for future growth," said Bradley Brouwer, regional manager of South Africa Tourism (SAT) for Asia and the Pacific.

"China has been identified as a key emerging source market for international tourist arrivals to South Africa, showing characteristics of a maturing travel market," he said.

Brouwer said flourishing bilateral ties in the coming years would inject more vigor into local tourism, which has taken a favorable turn since 2009 when South Africa was granted approved destination status by China. With this bilateral tourism arrangement, the African country can host Chinese tourists undertaking leisure travel in groups.

Between 2004 and 2008, Brouwer said, his country witnessed only sporadic scores of Chinese visitors, with the annual number averaging between 40,000 and 51,000.

Starting 2009, figures showed a steady rise in the number of Chinese tourists, with stay-over arrivals up 12.4 percent year-on-year.

More than 68,000 Chinese tourists visited South Africa in 2010, and the number grew by 24 percent to 90,000 in 2011.

The manager attributed such an impressive increase to South Africa's admission to BRICS, a grouping of emerging economies, including Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa.

"Since South Africa's joining of BRICS, the liaison between China and South Africa has been enhanced in various aspects ... and China has showed great potential to drive growth in arrivals to South Africa," he said.

"The Chinese have grown to appreciate South Africa's natural beauty,fantastic infrastructure, entertainment and shopping experiences," he added.

Other factors also help spur the growth, the official said, citing the introduction of direct flights between the two countries in January and the opening of two new visa application centers in Beijing and Shanghai in 2011.

South Africa has launched a travel promotion campaign targeting Chinese visitors, including holding workshops in Shanghai, Beijing, Hong Kong to highlight the rich and varied travel resources that South Africa could offer.

The country also established the South African National Convention Bureau this year to better host business events, further boosting the numbers of business visitors.

According to the SAT, more than 8 million foreign tourists visited South Africa in 2011, up 3 percent from 2010 and the growth was mainly driven by a 14.6 percent hike from the emerging markets of China and India.


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