Unveiling South Africa’s Hidden Treasures: A Journey into the Eastern Cape and Beyond

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South Africa’s Eastern Cape, a relatively untouched province, recently hosted the launch of the 2023 Tourism Summer Campaign. Led by Tourism Minister Patricia de Lille, the campaign’s primary goal is to highlight the lesser-known areas of South Africa, unveiling their hidden treasures and astonishing landscapes.

Exploring the Eastern Cape’s Natural Wonders

Stretching over 800 kilometers, the Eastern Cape offers some of the country’s most exquisite beaches along its remarkable coastline. In addition, this province is home to distinctive landscapes, featuring impressive rock formations and a diverse range of flora and fauna. Among its unique offerings, the Eastern Cape presents the opportunity to encounter the “Big 7”: lions, leopards, rhinos, elephants, buffalos, southern Right whales, and Great White sharks. Coupled with its natural beauty, the province is renowned for its friendly and welcoming people, embodying the spirit of Ubuntu.

Tourism Summer Campaign: Encouraging Domestic Travel

The Tourism Summer Campaign aims to position South Africa as a destination overflowing with experiences tailored to suit travelers of all kinds. A key focus of the campaign is to boost domestic travel, which serves as the foundation for the country’s tourism industry. During the first half of 2023, South Africans embarked on 18.8 million domestic overnight trips, staying away from home for a total of 65.7 million nights. To nurture a culture of local exploration, the campaign emphasizes how affordable it is to traverse the nation, even as consumers face challenges such as rising fuel costs and interest rates.

A Resurgence in International Travel

The international travel sector is also experiencing a strong revival, with South Africa welcoming 4.8 million international tourists between January and July 2023. This figure marks a 70.6% increase compared to the same period in 2022. Europe and the UK remain crucial source markets for South African tourism, with significant numbers of visitors hailing from Germany and the Netherlands. These encouraging statistics point towards a steady reinvigoration of international travel and a hopeful return to levels seen before the pandemic.

Embracing Hospitality and Inclusivity

Minister de Lille enthusiastically urges South Africans to adopt a hospitable attitude towards all guests, both domestic and international. Providing a warm welcome also entails ensuring that establishments and services cater to everyone, regardless of their race, religion, or orientation. At Africa’s Travel Indaba in May, various stakeholders backed the inclusivity pledge, committing to creating a genuinely inclusive environment for all tourists.

Prioritizing Safety in Tourism

Safety is a critical concern for the tourism sector, and the government is undertaking several initiatives to enhance it. A total of R174.5 million has been allocated for training over 2,300 Tourism Monitors throughout the country, tasked with safeguarding top tourist attractions and national parks. In addition, the Tourism Business Council of South Africa has introduced the Secura app, linking travelers and industry stakeholders with emergency service providers.

Strengthening Collaborations within the Industry

Cooperation is vital in addressing the challenges facing the tourism sector. The government is closely collaborating with departments such as Home Affairs and Transport to mitigate obstacles hindering tourism recovery. Home Affairs has extended its e-visa program to include 34 countries, while the Department of Transport has streamlined the process for obtaining tourism vehicle operating licenses.

Anticipating a Bustling Summer Tourism Season

As South Africa prepares for an outstanding summer season, the tourism sector is filled with optimism bolstered by its recent recovery. The goal is to welcome more visitors, striving to surpass 10 million arrivals by the end of March 2024. South Africa’s dynamic communities, establishments, and natural attractions stand ready to create unforgettable memories for all travelers, both local and international.

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