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Growing allure of thrilling destination

By Yang Feiyue | China Daily Africa | Updated: 2017-04-23 15:47

Number of Chinese visitors surges as S. Africa 'casts a spell'

The number of Chinese tourists to South Africa surged by 38 percent year-on-year to 117,000 in 2016, according to the South African tourism authority.

The country has made a series of moves to get a bigger slice of the booming Chinese outbound tourism market.

South African Tourism held road shows in Beijing, Shanghai and Hong Kong from late February to early March.

This year it is focusing on the excitement, surprise, joy and awe that it says awaits Chinese visitors to South Africa.

"We are proud to invite visitors to encounter the jaw-dropping 'Wow!' moments, once-in-a-lifetime experiences and unforgettable adventures found nowhere else in the world," says Bradley Brouwer, South African Tourism's president for the Asia-Pacific region.

"South Africa casts a spell because it is not manufactured and mundane but authentically raw and unfiltered, which is exactly what today's travelers seek," he says.

To encourage a seamless travel experience for Chinese citizens, South African Tourism has established visa facilitation centers in Beijing, Shanghai, Guangzhou, Chengdu, Xi'an, Shenyang, Wuhan, Jinan and Hangzhou.

"With China becoming the world's largest outbound tourism source market of South Africa, we continuously participate in global and national events in China, such as CIBTM (the China Incentive, Business Travel and Meetings Exhibition), to meet top level international hosted buyers with strong purchasing power," Brouwer says.

The country is expecting a continuous Chinese tourism boom in 2017-18, particularly due to the favorable exchange rate of the Chinese yuan versus the South African rand.

Compelling experiences combining pristine nature, wildlife, a city lifestyle, affordable luxury and adventures ranging from mountain hiking to shark cage-diving have made South Africa increasingly appealing to the Chinese.

"The destination fits tourists of all ages," says Li Mengran, the public relations manager of Beijing Utour International Travel Service Co, a major outbound-travel operator in China.

Natural landscapes, culture, wildlife and deserts are all attractive to Chinese visitors, she says.

"September to April is the best season to travel, when weather is relatively chilly in China," Li adds. The country has also caught the attention of wealthy Chinese.

South Africa was one of the top winter destinations for wealthy Chinese families last year, according to HHtravel, a high-end brand of Ctrip, China's biggest online travel agency.

Roughly 5 percent of the agency's clients visited South Africa, HHtravel reports.

Visitors enjoy warm spring and summer weather during the Chinese winter, according to the agency.

The rich have enjoyed viewing lions, black rhinos and leopards at Kruger National Park and watching thousands of seals flop atop rocks at Cape of Good Hope Nature Reserve.


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