SA tourism sector goes from strength to strength
South Africa’s tourism sector continues to exhibit strong recovery post-COVID-19, with the first half of 2023 recording more than 4 million tourist arrivals.
This is a significant increase from the 2.3 million tourist arrivals between January and June 2022.
The total number of tourist arrivals to South Africa between January and June 2023 showed a 78.2% surge in the first half of 2023 when compared to the same period in 2022.
“There has also been a substantial increase across all regions in the same period. Although the current growth demonstrates signs of recovery, we are still operating at 80% of our pre-pandemic capacity. In 2019 South Africa welcomed more than 5 million tourists between January and June,” Tourism Minister Patricia de Lille said.
De Lille said the African region continues to bring the largest share of tourist arrivals to the country.
“We are pleased with the number of visitors that our country continues to receive from the rest of the African continent. This is a testament to the marketing efforts that we have implemented to attract tourists from this region.
“Africa remains a key source market for us, and we are committed to collaborating as a tourism sector to make sure we welcome visitors from this region and that we cater for their needs and preferences.
“Beyond the African continent, South Africa has welcomed more visitors from other regions too. These robust figures showcase South Africa’s charm and attractiveness as well as the work that we are doing in marketing South Africa as a tourist destination of choice,” de Lille said.
De Lille said the substantial increase, particularly from Australasia and Asia, reflects the global trend towards post-pandemic travel recovery.
“We are growing stronger each day and we are determined to pass pre-COVID-19 arrival numbers. South Africa is open for tourism, and we are ready to welcome more tourists from across Africa and the globe to experience our diverse cultures and heritage.
“I wish to express my deepest gratitude to all travellers who chose to explore our country and contributed to the tourism sector’s growth and to our economy. The support of travellers, both domestic and international, has played a crucial role in revitalizing our economy and restoring the vibrancy to our tourism sector.
“I also wish to thank the tourism private sector across the country for all your hard work to grow our tourism offering, promote South Africa as a must-see destination and for your amazing hospitality in welcoming and hosting our visitors,” the Minister said.
South Africa was recently honoured by readers of the UK’s Telegraph Travel publication with the title of "Best Country" while Cape Town claimed the coveted title of "Best City in the World”. – SAnews.gov.za
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South Africa’s Travel & Tourism’s growth to outpace the national economy for the next 10 years
South Africa’s Travel & Tourism’s growth to outpace the national economy for the next 10 years
Travel & Tourism to create more than 800,000 jobs over the next decade
London, UK: The World Travel & Tourism Council ( WTTC ) has revealed the South African Travel & Tourism’s GDP will drive the national economic recovery over the next decade.
The forecast from WTTC’s Economic Impact Report (EIR) shows the South African Travel & Tourism sector is forecasted to grow at an average rate of 7.6% annually over the next decade, significantly outstripping the 1.8% growth rate of the country’s overall economy.
By 2032, the sector’s contribution to GDP could reach more than ZAR 554.6 billion (7.4% of the total economy), injecting nearly ZAR 287 billion into the national economy.
The sector is also expected to create more than 800,000 jobs over the next decade, to reach more than 1.9 million by 2032.
Although the data reveals a bright future for South Africa’s Travel & Tourism sector, the recovery was seriously hampered after the detection and surge of the Omicron variant.
Many countries around the world placed severe and damaging restrictions on African countries, which caused even further damage to those economies and put thousands more livelihoods at risk.
By the end of this year, Travel & Tourism’s contribution to GDP is expected to grow 37.2% year on year, to nearly ZAR 268 billion (4.3% of total economy).
Employment in the sector is set to grow by 3.8%% to reach more than 1.1 million jobs.
Julia Simpson, WTTC President & CEO, said: “Although the future looks bright for the South African Travel & Tourism sector, the recovery this year will be slower than expected.
“Knee-jerk travel restrictions imposed over South Africa and other African destinations were impulsive and unjustified. Instead of punishing, these countries should have been praised for discovering the variant early.
“However, with GDP contribution and jobs on the rise, the long-term forecast looks very positive.”
In 2019, the South African Travel & Tourism sector’s contribution to GDP as a share of total economy was 6.4% (ZAR 405.2 billion), falling to just 3.1% (ZAR 180 billion) in 2020, which represented a staggering 55.6% loss.
The sector also supported more than 1.5 million jobs across the country, before suffering a 29.9% drop, falling to just over one million.
WTTC’s latest EIR report also reveals that 2021 saw the beginning of the recovery for South Africa’s Travel & Tourism sector.
Last year, its contribution to GDP climbed 8.4% year on year, to reach just over ZAR 195 billion.
The sector also saw a recovery of 20,000 Travel & Tourism jobs, representing a 1.9% rise to reach almost nearly 1.1 million.
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South Africa’s Tourism Industry: Next Stop, Recovery?
By Devon Maylie
Tourism business Zulu Nomad expected 2020 to be a banner year as it prepared to launch a digital marketplace to connect small businesses in Southern Africa with international travelers. Then, COVID-19 hit.
“We’ve had to put plans on hold, but we also have to keep an eye on the future beyond COVID-19,” said Zulu Nomad founder Phaka Hlazo. “That’s what we’re also telling other small businesses so that we can come out of this.”
For most tourism businesses in South Africa—from hotels and lodges to guides and transport firms—a global tourism shutdown has dried up revenues for the foreseeable future, though fixed costs remain. In South Africa, tourism generates 740,000 direct jobs and more than 1.5 million indirectly. Small businesses make up around 80 percent of the travel and tourism industry. Many of them are on the brink.
Of course, South Africa’s tourism industry isn’t alone. Tourism accounts for 7.1 percent of Africa’s GDP and contributes $169 billion to the continent’s economy. The World Travel and Tourism Council estimates 100 million tourism-related jobs have already been lost globally, including nearly eight million in Africa, due to the COVID-19 crisis.
Many tourism sector businesses will not survive; others are adapting the best they can.
For example, Hlazo has delayed the launch of Zulu Nomad’s digital marketplace by several months and began running webinars for tourism colleagues so she can continue helping the industry prepare for a more digital future.
“We realize there’s no opportunity to monetize anything at all now right now,” Hlazo said. “But we all need to understand the opportunities for when the economy recovers and travel restrictions are lifted, so as a collective we can hit the ground running.”
Data for Impact
A survey published in April by South Africa’s Department of Tourism, the Tourism Business Council of SA, and IFC revealed the anguish of South Africa’s tourism sector. Of the survey’s 1,600 respondents, 58 percent said they couldn’t make their loan repayments in March, while 54 percent said they couldn’t cover their fixed costs. Half said they were forced to slash wages for more than half of their staff.
Collecting data through surveys is a critical first step to help the industry understand the effects of COVID-19 on tourism businesses—and then to respond with targeted solutions. IFC will conduct two more surveys in South Africa in the next 12 months with the tourism sector.
“The sector must consider a long-term roadmap to move through recovery, and a sector re-boot that sets it back on a path to growth – and not just back on the pre-COVID-19 path,” said IFC Country Manager for South Africa, Adamou Labara. “There is an opportunity here to re-position South Africa in a new global economy – as a resilient destination.”
Across sub-Saharan Africa, IFC is working with existing partners in the tourism sector to help them navigate the immediate crisis and plan for recovery. In Ethiopia and Zimbabwe, IFC helped establish a dedicated communications platform to provide clear messaging to consumers about the preparedness of the destinations – and build trust with the travel trade to enable a better recovery.
In Côte d’Ivoire, IFC is supporting SMEs in the hospitality supply-chain to adapt their business models to survive the next 12 months. In Rwanda, IFC is supporting the development of the domestic and regional tourism markets, for greater resilience of the sector.
Meanwhile, In South Africa and elsewhere in the region, IFC is discussing how it can apply some of its global $8 billion fast-track financing to support private-sector clients to sustain economies and protect jobs during this unprecedented global crisis.
Preparing for Recovery
For Jabu Matsilele, who runs Johannesburg-based Buja Tours and Safaris with his wife and cousin, communication and creative solutions will underpin the rebuilding phase, which he hopes comes soon: the dozens of drivers and tour guides the company contracted prior to COVID-19 are now all out of work.
Matsilele said he regularly sends WhatsApp messages to clients in key markets in the Middle East, Turkey and India, reminding them of the beauty of South Africa and encouraging everyone during this time to look to the future. He also negotiated a postponement of some pre-booked trips to avoid cancellations. A credit holiday with some of the business financiers has also helped.
“The moment you sleep you don’t know what tomorrow will bring. It’s all about hoping,” said Matsilele.
Exactly when and how international travel will resume are unknown, but tourism businesses in South Africa and elsewhere are banking on pent-up domestic demand to restore their reeling industry once it’s safe—and permitted—to operate.
Published June 2020
November 10, 2023
This article has been reviewed according to Science X's editorial process and policies . Editors have highlighted the following attributes while ensuring the content's credibility:
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- Published: July 2004
Transforming the South African tourism industry: The emerging black-owned bed and breakfast economy
- Christian M. Rogerson 1
GeoJournal volume 60 , pages 273–281 ( 2004 ) Cite this article
In South Africa the tourism industry has been targeted as one of the key sectoral drivers for economic development and transformation of the country over the next two decades. A special feature of the South African tourism economy, which is a legacy of the apartheid period, is that the overwhelming majority of tourism enterprises and of the tourism economy as a whole is under the ownership of the white minority. With the post-apartheid transition, the national government recognizes that this unequal ownership structure in tourism needs to be addressed through a programme of transformation and consolidated support for the development of black owned tourism enterprises, especially of small tourism enterprises. The objective in this paper is to examine the problems and challenges that face the transformation of South Africa's contemporary tourism economy by investigating the development and constraints upon the country's emergent small black-owned accommodation sector in the form of bed and breakfast establishments.
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Rogerson, C.M. Transforming the South African tourism industry: The emerging black-owned bed and breakfast economy. GeoJournal 60 , 273–281 (2004). https://doi.org/10.1023/B:GEJO.0000034734.81953.47
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DOI : https://doi.org/10.1023/B:GEJO.0000034734.81953.47
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Tourism sector recovery plan (tsrp), destination development programme, tourism incentive programme (tip), tourism equity fund (tef), tourism grading support programme (tgsp), green tourism incentive programme (gtip), south african tourism (sat), tourism in the provinces, top-10 reasons to visit south africa, traveller’s guide.
The mandate of the Department of Tourism (NDT), as outlined in the Tourism Act of 2014, is to promote the growth and development of the tourism sector; promote quality tourism products and services; provide for the effective marketing of South Africa as a domestic and international tourist destination; enhance cooperation and coordination between all spheres of government in developing and managing tourism; and promote responsible tourism for the benefit of South Africa, and for the enjoyment of all its residents and foreign visitors.
In recognition of tourism as a national priority with the potential to contribute significantly to economic development, the 1996 White Paper on the Development and Promotion of Tourism in South Africa provides for the promotion of domestic and international tourism. The National Tourism Sector Strategy provides a blueprint for the sector to meet the growth targets contained in the National Development Plan.
The department considers it vital to protect and reignite the demand for tourism to ensure that the sector lives up to its potential for contributing to South Africa’s economic growth. Over the medium term, this will entail a focus on strengthening capabilities within the department to ensure the long‐term sustainability of the sector; enhancing and maintaining core tourism assets and infrastructure, and in so doing creating work opportunities; supporting historically disadvantaged tourism enterprises; implementing norms and standards for safe operations across the tourism value chain; and enhancing tourism safety in collaboration with the South African Police Service.
Tourism contributes 3,7% to South Africa’s gross domestic product, more than agriculture, utilities and construction. South Africa is optimistic about its tourism prospects, following the total rescinding of the Coronavirus Disease (COVID-19) restrictive regulations and lockdowns in June 2022.
The tourism sector is one of the critical intervention areas that have been identified in the Economic Reconstruction and Recovery Plan as a key driver of the economic recovery in the country. The NDT together with the private sector and other stakeholders collaborated to develop the TSRP.
The plan is anchored on three interlinked pillars or strategic themes: protecting and rejuvenating supply, reigniting demand and strengthening enabling capability for long-term sustainability.
The TSRP outlines a set of actions, timelines of implementation of each action and the allocation of each action to an implementation agent.
As part of the TSRP, the NDT has implemented projects to protect and rejuvenate the supply of tourists, and these include:
- publishing the Norms and Standards for Safe Operation in the Sector, as well as providing training within the sector on these;
- implementing the tourism infrastructure maintenance programme in key tourism assets and finalizing the Baviaanskloof Interpretative Centre and Leopard Trail, which was funded by the European Union at the tune of R57 million;
- refurbishing existing state-owned tourism assets such as precincts, protected areas, national and provincial parks, botanical and zoological gardens and heritage sites through the Tourism Infrastructure Maintenance Programme;
- implementing initiatives to mobilise resources through investment promotion; and
- rolling out the comprehensive sector skills development programme to ensure that relevant skills are available as the sector recovers.
During the medium term, the Destination Development Programme will continue with the implementation of a tourism infrastructure maintenance programme of state-owned assets to protect and rejuvenate tourism supply.
The focus of this work is on improving and upgrading sites of heritage significance including liberation heritage, national parks, botanical gardens as well as rural and township precincts.
The NDT continues to implement the TIP to stimulate the growth, development and transformation of the South African tourism sector. The TIP aims to stimulate growth and development in the tourism sector by providing financial assistance to privately owned tourism enterprises.
In line with its mission to employ strategic partnerships, it has collaborated with other government departments and entities in the roll out of the incentive programme. These include the National Empowerment Fund, Industrial Development Corporation, Tourism Grading Council of South Africa (TGCSA) and the Small Enterprise Finance Agency.
Under the TIP, the department will implement the Market Access Support Programme (MASP) offering partial financial support to qualifying small tourism enterprises to participate and exhibit at selected tourism marketing platforms.
Various trade shows have returned following the lockdown conditions globally, which resulted in the cancellation of most international tourism trade platforms.
In support of the objectives of enterprise development and transformation, the department will aim to fast-track the piloting of the TEF, which offers for capital investment in the form of grant funding to commercially viable black‐owned tourism enterprises.
The TEF is intended to fast-track transformation within the tourism sector.
The facility provides a combination of debt finance and grant to facilitate equity acquisition and new project development in the tourism sector by black entrepreneurs. The fund will also seek to develop skills and ensure that the sector is sufficiently equipped to meet increased demand and expectations by implementing capacity‐building programmes such as the wine service training programme, the hospitality youth programme, and food and beverage programmes.
The TGSP is a joint initiative between NDT and the TGCSA under the broader TIP to encourage more accommodation and MESE (meetings, exhibitions, and special events) establishments to get graded and stay graded under the star grading system.
The programme aims to improve quality and standards of tourism offerings and gives discounts of up to 90% on grading assessment fees for new and renewal grading applications. This is an important incentive as it supports our quality assurance programme that enhances overall visitor experience without putting additional burden on small enterprises.
The department is expected to implement the Women in Tourism (WiT) Programme as a platform to drive initiatives that support the development and empowerment of women in the tourism sector. This platform recognises the challenges faced by women entrepreneurs who are often found at the bottom end of the tourism economic value chain.
The GTIP is a resource efficiency incentive programme of the NDT whose objective is to encourage private sector tourism enterprises to move towards the sustainable management of water and energy resources whilst adhering to responsible tourism practices. Through grant funding, the GTIP assists private sector tourism enterprises in reducing the cost of investing in more energy and water efficient operations, while increasing their competitiveness, profitability and operational sustainability in the long term. The GTIP broadly offers the following to qualifying tourism enterprises:
- 90% of the cost for a new resource efficiency audit or the full cost for reviewing an existing resource efficiency audit conducted by the National Cleaner Production Centre of South Africa; and
- Grant funding to qualifying small and micro enterprises on a sliding scale from 30% to 90% of the total cost of implementing qualifying resource efficiency interventions, which is capped at R1 million. The Industrial Development Corporation manages the programme on behalf of the department.
The Tourism Act of 2014 mandates SAT to market South Africa internationally and domestically as a preferred tourism and business events destination, ensure that tourist facilities and services are of the highest standard, and monitor and evaluate the performance of the tourism sector.
Over the medium term, the entity planned to focus on responding to the National Tourism Recovery Strategy. Primary activities will include revitalising South Africa’s reputation as a premier travel destination; and protecting, defending and entrenching current markets while growing new strategically identified markets to drive domestic business travel and meet the rising demand for domestic leisure travel. The South Africa National Convention Bureau (SANCB) is a ‘one-stop solution’ for independent information and assistance, giving neutral advice on all aspects of hosting and organising any business event in South Africa.
The Western Cape, which lies bordered by two oceans – the Indian Ocean to the south and the Atlantic Ocean to the west – is South Africa’s most developed tourism region.
- Table Mountain, which forms part of the Table Mountain National Park , is one of the official New Seven Wonders of Nature, following a lengthy international public voting process. A modern cableway takes visitors to the top of the mountain, providing spectacular views.
- The Victoria and Alfred (V&A) Waterfront , the Company’s Gardens , the District Six Museum , the houses of Parliament and the South African National Gallery .
- The Nelson Mandela Gateway to Robben Island is in the Clock Tower Precinct at the V&A Waterfront. It houses interactive multimedia exhibitions, an auditorium, boardrooms, the Robben Island Museum and a restaurant.
- The South African Rugby Museum in Newlands reflects the history of the sport as far back as 1891.
- All South African wine routes fall under the auspices of the Wine of Origin Scheme. Production is divided into official regions, districts and wards. There are five principle demarcations – Coastal, Breede River Valley, Little Karoo, Olifants River and Boberg, covering 21 districts and 61 wards.
- Jazz is popular in Cape Town, ranging from traditional blues to African jazz. The top jazz event in the Western Cape is the annual Cape Town International Jazz Festival , affectionately referred to as “Africa’s Grandest Gathering”.
The Garden Route features the pont at Malgas, which is one of the two remaining points in the country, ferrying vehicles and livestock across the Breede River. This popular route spans roughly 200km of South Africa’s southern coast, incorporating a picturesque stretch of coastline.
- Attequas Kloof Pass, South African/Anglo-Boer War blockhouses and the Bartolomeu Dias complex . Great Brak River offers a historic village with many opportunities for whale- and dolphin-watching along the extensive coast. The Slave Tree in George, located just outside the Old Library, was planted in 1811. It is known to be the biggest English oak in the Southern Hemisphere.
- Bungee-jumping at the Gouritz River Gorge, hiking, mountain-biking and angling are popular pastimes.
- The Point in Mossel Bay is popular among surfers and its natural pool formed by rock is also a favourite swimming spot at low tide.
- Genadendal is the oldest Moravian village in Africa, with church buildings and a school dating back to 1738. The Genadendal Mission and Museum complex documents the first mission station in South Africa.
- Villiersdorp houses the Dagbreek Museum that dates back to 1845. The historical home, Oude Radyn, is possibly the only building in the Western Cape to have Batavian wooden gutters and down pipes.
The Karoo is distinctively divided into the Great Karoo and the Little Karoo by the Swartberg Mountain Range, which runs east-west, parallel to the southern coastline, but is separated from the sea by another east-west range called the Outeniqua–Langeberg Mountains. The Great Karoo lies to the north of the Swartberg range; the Little Karoo is to the south of it.
The Little Karoo’s fascinating landscape is fashioned almost entirely by water. Its vegetation ranges from lush greenery in the fertile river valleys to short, rugged Karoo plants in the veld. Gorges feature rivers that cut through towering mountains, while breathtakingly steep passes cross imposing terrain. The region is also home to the world’s largest bird – the ostrich.
- Excellent wines and port are produced in the Calitzdorp and De Rust areas.
- The Swartberg Nature Reserve and Pass with their gravel roads are also worth a visit.
- The Little Karoo Nasionale Kunstefees (National Arts Festival) is held in Oudtshoorn annually.
- The Cango Caves , a series of 30 subterranean limestone caves, bear evidence of early San habitation and features magnificent dripstone formations.
- Amalienstein and Zoar are historic mission stations midway between Ladysmith and Calitzdorp. Visitors can go on donkey-cart and hiking trails through orchards and vineyards. The Seweweekspoort is ideal for mountain biking, hiking, and protea and fynbos admirers.
The Northern Cape is an excellent sandboarding destination and a number of local operators offer sandboarding lessons and tours. The dunes near Kakamas and Witsand are very popular and expert boarders and novices are more than welcome – boards can be rented on arrival.
Adventure-tour companies specialising in dune boarding in South Africa advise you to bring: a camera to record the inevitable antics, lots of sunscreen and a sense of humour. Some of the more enterprising companies turn it into a fun day, complete with children’s dune boarding and picnics. This is a fun sport that will satisfy most peoples’ need for speed.
- The Big Hole in Kimberley is the largest hand-dug excavation in the world. In 1871, diamonds were discovered at the site and mined manually by prospectors.
- The house where Sol Plaatje (African National Congress founding member and human rights activist) lived in Kimberley, has a library of Plaatje’s and other black South African writers’ works, and several displays, including a portrayal of black involvement in the South African/Anglo- Boer War.
- Known as the “Oasis of the Kalahari”, Kuruman is blessed with a permanent and abundant source of water that flows from Gasegonyana (Setswana for “the little water calabash”) – commonly called the “ Eye of Kuruman ” – which yields 20 million litres of water a day. The Wonderwerk Cave at Kuruman features extensive San paintings that may be viewed by appointment.
- The Kalahari Raptor Centre cares for injured birds. Many of these majestic creatures can be seen at close quarters.
- Upington is the commercial, educational and social centre of the Green Kalahari , owing its prosperity to agriculture and its irrigated lands along the Orange River. A camel-and-rider statue in front of the town’s police station pays tribute to the “mounties”, who patrolled the harsh desert territory on camels.
- Namaqualand is famous for a spectacular annual show in spring when an abundance of wild flowers covers vast tracts of desert.
- Namaqualand is also home to the Ais-Ais/Richtersveld National Park . It is managed jointly by the local Nama people and South African National Parks.
- De Aar is the most important railway junction in South Africa. The author Olive Schreiner lived in the town for many years. Visitors can dine in her former house, which has been converted into a restaurant.
- Hanover is known for its handmade shoes and articles mademostly from sheepskin and leather.
- Mattanu Private Game Reserve offers the ultimate Kalahari game experience – there are roan, sable, buffalo, golden oryx, golden gnu and many other types of antelope and wild animals. One can view the animals on a quad bike, safari vehicle or even by helicopter.
This central region of South Africa is characterised by endless rolling fields of wheat, sunflowers and maize, and forms the principal bread basket of South Africa.
- With its King’s Park Rose Garden containing more than 4 000 rose bushes, the Free State’s major city, Bloemfontein, has rightfully earned the nickname “City of Roses.” The city also hosts an annual rose festival.
- Bloemfontein has a busy cultural and social-events calendar. One of the annual events is the Mangaung African Cultural Festival, popularly known as the Macufe Arts Festival , in September.
- The National Women’s Memorial commemorates the women and children who died in concentration camps during the Anglo-Boer/South African War.
- The Gariep Dam , more than 100-km long and 15-km wide, is part of the Orange River Water Scheme, the largest inland expanse of water in South Africa. The Gariep Dam Nature Reserve lies between the dam and Bethulie.
- Clocolan is known for the beauty of its cherry trees when they are in full bloom in spring. San rock paintings and engravings are also found in the area.
- The Llandaff Oratory in the nearby village of Van Reenen is believed to be the smallest Roman Catholic church in the world.
- At Harrismith, there are various memorials in honour of those who fought in the Anglo-Boer/South African War and World War I. Of particular interest is a memorial for the Scots Guards and Grenadier Guards.
- The Golden Gate Highlands National Park outside Clarens has beautiful sandstone rock formations.
- The Vredefort Dome , a World Heritage Site, is the oldest and largest meteorite impact site in the world. It was formed about two billion years ago when a giant meteorite hit Earth.
The Eastern Cape boasts a magnificent coastline that is complemented by more than 60 state-owned game reserves and over 30 private game farms, which collectively cover an area greater than the Kruger National Park.
- Gqeberha (formerly Port Elizabeth) has some beautiful parks with well-landscaped gardens, including St George’s Park, which covers 73 ha.
- To the north-west of Graaff-Reinet lies the Valley of Desolation , which is a national monument within the Karoo Nature Reserve that was formed millions of years ago by weathering erosion.
- Varied game reserves, including the Addo Elephant , Mountain Zebra and Mkambati parks.
- South Africa’s first marine park, the Tsitsikamma National Park extends along a rocky coastline of 50 km, and 3 km out to sea.
- Southern right and humpback whales and their calves are regularly spotted from the high dunes, usually between May and November, while common and bottlenose dolphins are often seen close to shore.
- The Camdeboo National Park , near Graaff-Reinet, was proclaimed as South Africa’s 22nd National Park.
The Limpopo landscape is made up of dramatic contrasts characterised by hot savanna plains and mist-clad mountains, age-old indigenous forests and cycads alongside modern plantations, and ancient mountain fortresses and the luxury of contemporary infrastructure and modern-day facilities.
- The Marakele National Park is home to some rare yellowwood and cedar trees and the world’s largest colony of Cape vultures. It is also a leader in the conservation of the black rhino.
- Polokwane is considered the premier game-hunting destination in South Africa.
- The Mapungubwe Archaeological Site, about 80 km west of Musina, lies within the boundaries of the Mapungubwe National Park . It is one of the richest of its kind in Africa and a world heritage site. Excavations in the 1930s uncovered a royal graveyard, which included a number of golden artefacts, including the famous gold foil rhinoceros.
- The Kruger National Park (northern section) is one of South Asfrica’s major tourist attractions. The park is home to a large number and wide variety of amphibians, reptiles and birds, as well as 147 mammal species, including the Big Five (African lion, African elephant, Cape buffalo, African leopard and black rhinoceros).
North West has several cultural villages that entertain and attract visitors. A number of excellent game reserves have been established, including the Pilanesberg National Park.
- The historic route of Mahikeng includes an South African/Anglo-Boer War siege site, the Molema House where Sol Plaatje lived while writing his Mafikeng Diary, and the Mahikeng Museum.
- The Groot Marico region is known as mampoer country and visitors can explore the Mampoer Route. The Kortkloof Cultural Village is dedicated to the Tswana people.
- Ottosdal is the only place in South Africa where the unique “wonderstone” or pyrophyllite, is found and mined.
- San rock engravings, Stone Age implements and structures are found on farms such as Witpoort, Gestoptefontein, Driekuil and Korannafontein.
Mpumalanga means “the place where the sun rises” in the Nguni languages. The climate and topography vary from cool highland grasslands at 1 600 m above sea level, through the middleveld and escarpment, to the subtropical Lowveld towards the Kruger National Park and many private game reserves. Scenic beauty, climate and wildlife, voted the most attractive features of South Africa, are found in abundance in this province.
- Barberton features many reminders of the early gold-rush era. Museums include Belhaven, Fernlea House and Stopforth House. The only known verdite deposits in the world are found in the rocks of the Barberton district. The annual Diggers Festival is held in September every year.
- The spectacular Blyde River Canyon is a 26-km-long gorge carved out of the face of the escarpment, and is one of the natural wonders of Africa. God’s Window provides a magnificent panoramic view across miles of densely forested mountains, the green Lowveld and the canyon.
- Sabie is the centre of the largest man-made forest in South Africa and a popular destination among mountain bikers. The Cultural Historical Forestry Museum depicts various aspects of the country’s forestry industry.
- The Bridal Veil, Horseshoe and Lone Creek waterfalls, and Mac Mac pools and falls just outside Sabie are well worth a visit. At the Montrose Falls in Schoemanskloof, the Crocodile River cascades into a series of rock pools.
- The region also holds rich historical sentiments centred on the monument of the late Mozambican President Samora Machel , constructed in the village of Mbuzini.
‘Gauteng’ is a Sesotho word meaning “place of gold”. It is the smallest province of South Africa and also the most populous and urbanized. It is characterised by a cosmopolitan mix of people from all walks of life.
- Natural areas include the Suikerbosrand Nature Reserve (Heidelberg); Braamfontein Spruit Trust , The Wilds on Houghton and the Klipriviersberg Nature Reserve in Johannesburg; the Kloofendal Nature Reserve and Walter Sisulu Botanical Gardens (in Roodepoort); and the National Botanical Garden , Smuts House Museum , and Freedom Park in Pretoria; as well as the Tswaing Crater .
- The Sterkfontein caves near Krugersdorp are the site of the discovery of the skull of the famous Mrs Ples, an estimated 2,5-million-year-old hominid fossil; and Little Foot, an almost complete hominid skeleton of more than 3,3 million years old.
- The Constitution Hill Precinct is set to become one of South Africa’s most popular landmarks.
- A guided tour of Soweto leaves a lasting impression of this vast community’s life and struggle against apartheid.
- The Apartheid Museum in Johannesburg tells the story of the legacy of apartheid through photographs, film and artefacts.
- The Nelson Mandela Centre of Memory opened its doors to the public following the death of former President Nelson Mandela in December 2013.
- The Union Buildings celebrated its centenary in 2013. Designed by Sir Herbert Baker, construction started in 1910 and was completed in 1913. It has since been the setting for presidential inaugurations. It is also the setting of many national celebrations, including Women’s Day and Freedom Day. In December 2013, a bronze statue of former President Mandela was unveiled at the Union Buildings.
- The National Zoological Gardens in Pretoria is considered one of the 10 best in the world.
- The old mining town of Cullinan is where the world’s biggest diamond, the 3 106-carat Cullinan diamond, was found.
One of the country’s most popular tourist destinations the province stretches from Port Edward in the south to the borders of Eswatini and Mozambique to the north.
- The Durban area has a significant number of reserves, developed parks and specialised gardens, the most renowned being the Municipal Botanical Garden. Annual events in and around the city include the popular Comrades Marathon between Durban and Pietermaritzburg, an international surfing competition, the Duzi canoe marathon, the Midmar Mile, Dolphin Mile open water swimming events and the Durban July Handicap horse race.
- The Weza State Forest in East Griqualand runs through indigenous forests and commercial plantations. The forest is home to several antelope species and a huge variety of birds.
- St Lucia and its surroundings comprise the iSimangaliso Wetland Park that have five separate ecosystems. It is a fishing and bird watching paradise. Boat trips on the lake offer opportunities for crocodile and hippo sightings. The Kosi Bay Nature Reserve is part of the Coastal Forest Reserve between Mozambique and Sodwana Bay.
- The Hluhluwe-Umfolozi Park , one of the largest game parks in South Africa, is home to the Big Five, as well as cheetah and wild dogs.
- The Battlefields Route in northern KwaZulu-Natal has the highest concentration of battlefields and related military sites in South Africa.
- The Midlands Meander is a scenic drive between Hilton and Mooi River, with some art studios, potters and painters, to herb gardens and cheese makers.
- Midmar Dam is zoned for yachting and power-boating while the 1 000-ha Midmar Game Park has rhino, zebra, a wide variety of antelope species and waterfowl.
- Affordable – In South Africa, you can even afford luxury and have spending money for shopping and other treats.
- Natural beauty – South Africa’s scenic wonders are legendary. From Table Mountain to God’s Window, the mountains, forests, coasts and deserts will sooth your soul and delight you.
- World-class facilities – You will find it easy to get around, find a comfortable place to stay and have a great meal.
- Adventure – South Africa is the adventure capital of the world. With over 130 adventures, there is something for everyone from mountain walks to shark-cage diving.
- Good weather – In sunny South Africa with a great weather, you can enjoy the outdoors, play golf year-round and take advantage of the nearly 3 000 km coastline.
- Rainbow Nation – The Rainbow Nation celebrates all its African and immigrant cultures. South Africans are known for their friendliness and hospitality.
- Diverse experiences – Go almost anywhere in South Africa and experience the ultimate combination of nature, wildlife, culture, adventure, heritage and good vibe.
- Wildlife – The abundant and diverse wildlife include the Big Five (African lion, African elephant, Cape buffalo, African leopard and black rhinoceros).
- Freedom Struggle – Discover a nation’s struggle for freedom whilst following the footsteps of Nelson Mandela, Hector Pieterson and many other celebrated revolutionarie
- Responsible tourism – In South Africa you can travel with care as you explore protected areas, contribute to social and conservation projects, and collect arts and crafts
Any person travelling in or out of the Republic of South Africa should unreservedly declare:
- All goods (including goods of another person) upon his person or in his possession which were purchased or otherwise acquired abroad or on any ship, vehicle or in any shop selling goods on which duty has not been paid; were remodelled, processed or repaired abroad, on arrival.
- Goods that are prohibited, restricted or controlled under any law;
- Goods that were required to be declared before leaving the Republic.
Before leaving, all goods which a traveller is taking with them beyond the borders of the Republic, including goods which are:
- Carried on behalf of another person;
- Intended for remodel, process or repair abroad;
- Prohibited, restricted or controlled under any law;
- Goods that a person, who temporarily entered the Republic, was required to declare upon entering the Republic.
Travellers must, upon request by a Customs Officer, provide the officer with full particulars related to the goods such as invoices, transport documents, proof of payment to supplier, letter of authority and any permits applicable to such goods. Further, travellers must answer fully and truthfully all questions put to him by such officer and, if required by such officer to do so, produce and open such goods for inspection by the said officer, and shall pay the duty and taxes assessed by such officer, if any.
What are your Duty Free allowances?
The duty free allowance only apply to goods for personal use or to dispose of as gifts in accompanied travellers’ baggage declared by returning residents and non-residents visiting the Republic.
The following imported goods declared by travellers in their accompanied baggage may be exempted from paying any import duties and Value-Added Tax (VAT):
- New or used goods of a total value not exceeding R5 000 per person;
- Wine not exceeding 2 litres per person;
- Spirituous and other alcoholic beverages, a total quantity not exceeding 1 litre per person;
- Cigarettes not exceeding 200 and cigars not exceeding 20 per person;
- 250 g cigarette or pipe tobacco per person;
- Perfumery not exceeding 50 ml and eau de toilette not exceeding 250 ml per person.
Wine, spirituous and other alcoholic beverages, tobacco products and perfumery imported in excess of the quantities specified must be cleared at the rates of duty specified in Schedule No.1 (“Tariff”) to the Customs and Excise Act No.91 of 1964.
The aforementioned goods are commonly referred to as consumables or luxury goods and the rate of duty can be considerably high if travellers exceed the above quantities and must clear those excess quantities and pay the import duties at the rates of duty specified in the tariff.
Even if goods are bought at an inbound duty free shop, the duty free allowance still applies upon arrival.
Note: The duty free allowance applicable to new or used goods to the value of R5000 person, is applicable in addition to the duty free allowance applicable to consumable goods.
What is your flat-rate assessment allowance?
- If you have goods in excess of the R5 000 duty free allowance but not exceeding R20 000, you may elect to pay customs duty at a rate of full duty less 20% (flat-rate) with VAT exempted instead of clearing the goods at the rates of duty specified in Schedule No. 1 (“tariff”) to the Customs and Excise Act of 1964;
- Goods in excess of the R20 000 flat-rate assessment threshold, pay import duties and VAT in accordance with the Harmonised System description and originating status of goods.
Conditions for duty free allowances:
- The duty free allowances related to new or used goods is only allowed once per person during a period of 30 days, following an absence of not less than 48 hours from South Africa;
- The flat rate assessment allowance is only allowed during a period of 30 days and shall not apply to goods imported by persons returning after an absence of less than 48 hours;
- The duty free allowances related to wine, spirituous and other alcoholic beverages, tobacco products and perfumery is only allowed once per person during a period of 30 days, following an absence of not less than 48 hours from South Africa;
- The goods must be carried as accompanied baggage;
- The tobacco or alcoholic beverage allowance is not applicable to persons under the age of 18 years.
What about handmade articles?
- Travellers can import handmade articles of leather, wood, plastic, stone or glass of up to 25kg for commercial purposes without paying duties or taxes.
What about goods coming in temporarily?
- You may be required to lodge a cash deposit as security to cover potential import duty or VAT on certain articles imported temporarily. Your refund will be paid after confirmation that the goods have left the country.
To access the Customs external Policy Traveller Processing SC-PA-01-11 visit the Customs page on the SARS website www.sars.gov.za .
Prohibited and restricted goods
- SARS administers certain prohibitions and restrictions on behalf of a number of government departments, institutions and bodies
- Prohibited means the goods are not allowed to enter or exit South Africa
- Restricted means goods are allowed to enter or exit South Africa under certain conditions e.g. permit or certificate is required.
To access a list of “Prohibited and restricted goods SC-CC-32”, visit the Customs page on the SARS website www.sars.gov.za .
Note: Traders and Travellers must be aware of the Counterfeit Goods Act No. 37 of 1997, which states that goods of inferior quality made or sold under another brand, without the brand owners authorisation, is an infringement upon which civil and/or criminal proceedings may be taken against the offender.
- A traveller is allowed to declare and carry a maximum of R25 000 / unlimited foreign currency, whether leaving or entering;
- A traveller shall declare whether or not he has with him any banknotes, gold, securities or foreign currency; and produce any bank notes, gold, securities or foreign currency which he has with him;
- The South African bank notes is unlimited if the traveller is going to / coming from a country within the Common Monetary Area (CMA);
- Travellers are advised to contact the South African Reserve Bank to obtain approval prior to taking cash across the borders of South Africa
- Although there’s technically no legal limit on how much money you can carry on a plane, if you are traveling internationally you must declare amounts of more than US$10,000 on your customs form, and be prepared for possible interviews with customs or law enforcement to explain the amount of money you have with you.
Southern African Customs Union (SACU)
The countries that fall under the SACU are Lesotho, Namibia, South Africa, Botswana and Eswatini. Travellers from SACU member countries do not pay customs import duties and are entitled to a VAT exemption on goods up to a value of R5 000.
When do I register for a customs code?
- Before goods can be imported or exported, SARS may require a person or entity to formally license or register prior to conducting any activity regulated by the Act
- A person, including a traveller, who imports or exports goods of which the total value required to be declared is less than R150 000 during any calendar year is excluded from formal registration requirements.
Persons excluded from formal registration requirements may make use of the registration code 70707070 subject to the following conditions:
- He/she is a natural person;
- Enters the goods for home consumption, temporary export or export;
- South African Revenue Service taxpayer reference number; or
- South African identity document number, in the case of a South African citizen or a permanent resident of the Republic, or passport document number in the case of a person who is not a South African citizen nor a permanent resident.
To register for a customs code
- You must complete the DA 185: Application form: Registration /Licensing of Customs and Excise clients, together with the relevant supporting annexure to the DA 185; or
- Use the Electronic Registration System and complete the online version DA185 and the relevant online supporting Annexure.
- Customs Registration, Licensing and Designation SC-CF-19.
- Excise Licensing and Registration SE-LR-02.
Refund of tax on visitor’s purchases
Value Added Tax (VAT) at a rate of 15% is levied on the purchase of most goods in South Africa. Tourists and foreign visitors to South Africa may make application at departure points for a refund of the VAT paid. The tax invoices/proof of payment for the purchases and the goods must be presented for inspection at the port of exit.
What happens if I have not complied with customs requirements?
SARS endeavours to educate and inform traders of their tax/duty obligations through various interventions, to help you to keep your tax affairs in order. Traders who are found to be non-compliant will be subjected to the Penal Provisions of the Customs and Excise Act of 1964, which includes a fine or criminal prosecution.
Source: Official Guide to South Africa 2021/22
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Load shedding and its effect on SA's tourism industry
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Tourism in South Africa is a perishable commodity and has been reeling from the decline in tourist volumes over the last few years. These lost volumes don’t only mean a decrease in revenues for tourism businesses but result in fewer new jobs being created for ordinary citizens across our amazing country.
When every 12 tourists translate into one new job, we should be fighting to retain every single visitor. All tourists expect us to keep our brand promise to keep them safe and make sure they have a memorable and enjoyable experience. Not being able to meet these expectations will result in fewer visitors, a drop in spending, fewer jobs, and more unemployment.
In this situation, tourism operators are not sure what they can offer visitors and visitors are not sure what to expect. That this is happening during the time of the year when we should be putting our best foot forward as a city and a country is only more troubling.
As Cape Town Tourism we urge all parties involved to resolve this situation with the urgency called for and in the meantime, we will be keeping our members and visitors updated on all developments as and when we receive information from the relevant authorities.
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Climate change could leave South African tourism high and dry
Senior Lecturer in Physical Geography, University of the Witwatersrand
Associate Professor in Tourism Geography, University of Johannesburg
Jennifer Fitchett receives funding from the DST/NRF Centre of Excellence for Palaeoscience.
Gijsbert Hoogendoorn does not work for, consult, own shares in or receive funding from any company or organisation that would benefit from this article, and has disclosed no relevant affiliations beyond their academic appointment.
University of Johannesburg provides support as an endorsing partner of The Conversation AFRICA.
University of the Witwatersrand provides support as a hosting partner of The Conversation AFRICA.
View all partners
Towards the end of each year hundreds of thousands of people escape dark, cold, rainy winters in Europe and North America for a break in sunny South Africa “.
Many are drawn by the country’s wide array of outdoor attractions: nature reserves, beaches and adventure activities like skydiving and water sports. All of these are reliant on prolonged pleasant weather conditions. And, for now, South Africa delivers just that.
But climate change could place the country’s booming tourism sector – which contributes more than R100 billion to the GDP each year – at risk.
A range of research we have conducted suggests that climate change will badly compromise the sector. In one province, the Eastern Cape, sea levels will rise so much by 2050 that properties in popular tourist haunts might be flooded if adaptation measures are not implemented.
Weather changes are inevitable
The sub-Saharan region will likely be hit hard by climate change. It will experience temperature increases above the average global rate. Extreme weather events will become more common and the region’s rainfall patterns are set to change. Some areas will experience increased rainfall and a heightened flood risk, while others are projected to experience a decrease in rainfall and become more drought prone.
South Africa and other countries on the continent such as Mozambique, Morocco and Egypt, whose tourism sectors also rely on good weather, need to act urgently to navigate the choppy waters of climate change.
Mapping the problem
These concerns led us to initiate a pilot study that explored climate change threats to the tourism sector in two small coastal Eastern Cape towns. The study used Digital Elevation Models that map future sea levels relative to the land surface. These maps explored the potential impact of rising sea levels to the towns’ accommodation establishments by 2050 and then again by 2100.
Our results indicate that the worst effects will be experienced by 2050. The models suggest that 23 guesthouses which immediately border the coastline and one town’s canal will be flooded by this time.
We also calculated the Tourism Climatic Index scores for the two towns based on climate data from the past 30 years. The index incorporates a range of meteorological variables which influence human comfort and aesthetic pleasure. This serves as a measure of a location’s climatic suitability for tourism in future.
We also interviewed people: 52 tourists and 53 accommodation establishment owners. The owners expressed a significant concern for tourists’ comfort in changing climatic conditions. Many told us they’d installed air conditioning units and organised indoor activities to deal with higher temperatures or rainfall. But rising sea levels were perceived as far too distant a problem to require immediate intervention. Many of the owners didn’t believe it would pose a threat within their lifetime.
Widening the lens
After we’d completed the pilot study we initiated a broad-based analysis of Tourism Climatic Index scores which included 18 locations distributed relatively evenly across South Africa.
This study confirmed the widely held perception that South Africa has particularly suitable weather conditions for tourism. All of the locations returned annual scores within the international classification of "Excellent” to “Ideal”.
For most locations, climates are most suitable in spring and autumn: winters are too cold and summers too hot. Cape Town is particularly suitable for tourism summer, which is confirmed by peak tourist numbers during this season. The scores were low in winter because of a combination of cold temperatures, persistent cloud cover and a large number of rainy days.
The study also explored the factors within the index which contributed to lowering a location’s score. For all 18 locations, the factor was either rainfall or thermal comfort – how hot or cold a place was.
Although this model confirms that the climate is currently suitable for tourism, projected changes in these meteorological variables are bad news for South Africa’s tourism sector. Climate change will not only shift seasons, changing the start date of spring and summer and extending the duration of summer. It will also alter rainfall patterns and daily temperatures. These factors will result in a reduced climate suitability for tourism. So what can tourism bodies and individual establishments like hotels or guesthouses do to mitigate against these changes?
There is room for action
An improved understanding of how climate change threatens tourism is a good thing, no matter how gloomy our findings look. Understanding can improve the sector’s capacity for effective adaptation and mitigation.
Accurate, high resolution forecasts of specific climate change threats allow for well targeted measures that improve the chances of sustainable tourism – whether it’s at the level of individual establishments or the whole sector nationally.
Individual establishments that operate from coastal premises could, for instance, build solid retaining walls, relocate to higher land and develop an emergency evacuation plan. They can also make improvements indoors to increase comfort during periods of bad weather, like installing air conditioners or organising indoor entertainment.
Nationally, the government could develop quicker responses to flood affected regions. This would allow tourism establishments to get back up and running quickly after a climatic event like a flood. Tourism authorities should work with forecasters to understand weather patterns better – then, armed with accurate scientific information they can draw tourists to the most suitable locations for a particular time of year.
- Climate change
- Weather forecasting
- South Africa
- Sea level rise
- Sub-Saharan Africa
- Africa travel
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South African Tourism invites travellers from North Europe to Live South Africa! in new campaign.
South africa showcases tourism prowess at world travel market london 2023 and latest arrival statistics continue to grow, when south europe meets south africa: in siya kolisi’s footsteps, south african tourism congratulates and welcomes the springbok back home after making rugby history, clinching fourth rugby world cup, getting into the swing of things for tourism, south africa wows at the sanganai world tourism expo, south africa showcases golf tourism potential at (igtm) in lisbon, south african tourism returns to imex las america to invite the world to come host business events in south africa, sa tourism south europe hub unveils its “live south africa” campaign, south african tourism wins ‘best adventure tourism destination’ at today’s traveller awards 2023, opinion piece by the minister of tourism, patricia de lille, speech by mr fish mahlalela, deputy minister of tourism, on the occasion of the world tourism day celebrations held in the north west province on 27 september 2023.
- SA Specialist
SA Specialist is an interactive online learning programme that will improve your knowledge of South Africa. It will equip you with the skills to better sell South Africa as a tourist destination.
South Africa on social media
The BMW International Open has made us excited for the BMW Golf Cup World Final to be hosted in SA. We caught up wi… https://t.co/IDHsnwn33E
Always a pleasure partnering with local businesses to promote SA on the global stage. Warren Weitsz, Co-Founder of… https://t.co/doxJa4wVxf
To say the players are bringing their A-game is an under statement! Round 2 has given us many unforgettable moments… https://t.co/IA2Ki5qsWO
"...Patrons have been keen and interested in engaging on where the best fairways in SA are. Paired with some of our… https://t.co/9kNQbIl1J5
Our stand at the BMW International Open has been drawing a lot of attention – and rightfully so! “We are proud and… https://t.co/jYDjs6VRM2
Clear skies, rolling greens, supportive crowds – the conditions couldn’t be better for a day at Golfclub München Ei… https://t.co/Z7UnxSbbuP
What happens when an amateur and pro hit the fairway together? Find out in the Pro-Am Tournament, where 3 amateurs… https://t.co/Ee3hgR1Ggc
They are joined by Grand Pavios Event Organiser. They will visit Kwa-Zulu Natal, Cape Town, and Knysna showcasing S… https://t.co/066ntNJGr1
As the country of Honour at the 2023 event, South Africa represented by South AfricaTourism in collaboration with W… https://t.co/ie2E9ZqaCF
Hosted in La Rochelle, France, the Grand Pavios is a major annual event for sailing enthusiasts and an internationa… https://t.co/R2P0GYpVrQ
Ready to get into the swing of things? The Pro-Am Tournament of the 2023 BMW International Open starts today in Mü… https://t.co/3l9e4mPMSo
Don’t miss out on what happened in the world of South African tourism with our #TourismTuesday newsletter. Read ou… https://t.co/Gvg2rDCBiT
Continuation.. To all the fathers in tourism, we salute you for your hard work, passion, and dedication. Thank you… https://t.co/TcpxDeaKkM
Continuation... On this special day, we encourage everyone to take a moment to appreciate and celebrate the fathers… https://t.co/7atxViWyxd
Fathers ensure a safe environment in which everyone can enjoy our country's diversity and play a pivotal role in cr… https://t.co/T8vvGTCu7i
Continuation... Today, we want to celebrate and honour the remarkable dads who play a vital role in shaping the wor… https://t.co/qS9WYfXyE0
@sontondlovu, the ACEO/COO of SA Tourism, joins in celebrating Father's Day by sending warm wishes to all the fathe… https://t.co/7ZbeNsUYoy
In commemoration of Youth Day, let’s shine a spotlight on the Basic Quality Verification programme by @TGCSA_, that… https://t.co/TZ2FDTadcJ
We look forward to showcasing South Africa’s abundant tourism offerings to a global audience while reminding them a… https://t.co/8df5w5kyGL
A dynamic collaboration between SA Tourism and the iconic BMW Group is set to supercharge the country’s efforts tow… https://t.co/tB5xLgYjnq
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