SA offers a treasure trove of experiences

Tuesday, September 19, 2023

Tourism Minister Patricia de Lille says South Africa offers a treasure trove of experiences suitable for all types of travellers - whether you are a local looking to explore your own country without straining your budget or an international adventurer seeking new memories.

“We’ve got you covered! We are committed to highlighting the less-visited provinces and regions of our country. As we all welcome the peak tourism summer season, we must showcase the unexplored beauty and hidden treasures that await discovery,” the Minister said at the launch of the 2023 Summer Campaign in the Eastern Cape on Tuesday.

De Lille said all the provinces have the “most amazing hidden gems” and that government is on a mission to highlight these hidden gems and showcase them to all of South Africa and the world.

She said tourism brings immense benefits to host communities and that these benefits must be felt in even the most remote of areas.

“We couldn’t have chosen a better province to do this than the province so rich in history and unparalleled beauty,” De Lille said.

De Lille said with over 800 kilometres of awe-inspiring coastline, the Eastern Cape province boasts some of the country’s most stunning beaches.

“Its landscapes are adorned with jaw-dropping rock formations and its ecosystems teem with a magnificent diversity of flora and fauna.

“What sets the Eastern Cape apart is its unique offering of the ‘Big 7’ – a thrilling roster that includes lions, leopards, rhinos, elephants, buffalos, Southern Right whales and Great White sharks.

“We all know the province, the home province of Tata Nelson Mandela, but it is equally known for its warm and welcoming people, who extend generous hospitality to all.

“In most successful tourism destinations worldwide, the domestic market serves as the bedrock of the tourism industry,” De Lille said.

During the height of the COVID-19 pandemic, when international travel faced severe restrictions due to global travel bans, the tourism sector leaned heavily on domestic tourism to sustain itself.

The Minister thanked local travellers who nonetheless explored the country when conditions permitted.

According to the Minister, in the first half of 2023, South Africans took 18.8 million domestic overnight trips up 23.4% when compared to the first half of 2022. Overnight spend was also up by 21.2% to reach R52.2 billion.

South Africans spent 65.7 million nights away from home and this was up 24.4% when compared to the first half of 2022.

De Lille said they want to use the Summer Campaign to further foster a culture of travel among South Africans.

“We understand that for this to be effective, ensuring affordability of travel should be at the forefront of our efforts.

“We are well aware that consumers are grappling with the challenges of a high cost of living. Consumers are facing an overall rise in the cost of living, driven by escalating fuel prices and interest rate hikes among others,” the Minister said.

De Lille said to respond to the high cost of living, said the tourism industry continues to explore creative ways in which to make travel more affordable.

From January to July 2023, a total of 4.8 million international tourists arrived in South Africa, signifying a remarkable 70.6% surge compared to the same period in 2022.

During Africa’s Travel Indaba in May this year, a significant milestone was reached when various stakeholders, including industry representatives and operators, came together to endorse the inclusivity pledge. –