News / Africa

Chinese Tourism Booming in South Africa

FILE - Tourists enjoy the view from Cape Point on the southern tip of the Cape Peninsula, about 50 kilometers south of Cape Town, South Africa, May 2010.FILE - Tourists enjoy the view from Cape Point on the southern tip of the Cape Peninsula, about 50 kilometers south of Cape Town, South Africa, May 2010.
x
FILE - Tourists enjoy the view from Cape Point on the southern tip of the Cape Peninsula, about 50 kilometers south of Cape Town, South Africa, May 2010.
FILE - Tourists enjoy the view from Cape Point on the southern tip of the Cape Peninsula, about 50 kilometers south of Cape Town, South Africa, May 2010.
The number of tourists visiting South Africa grew by about 10 percent last year. One nation helping that number grow is China.

At the top of Table Mountain in Cape Town, South Africa, last week, dozens of Chinese tourists stood taking in the view, grabbing photos, and conversing in Mandarin.

Among them, was 19-year-old Jason Zhu. He is a Chinese student going to school in Cape Town and was showing the sights to friends visiting from China.

"Cape Town very popular to come here to travel. Here, the place is very beautiful," he said.

As Chinese investment has grown in South Africa, so has Chinese tourism. China ranks fourth among countries sending tourists to South Africa, surpassing visitors from France.

Beauty, soccer help

Overall, tourism to South Africa grew by 10.2 percent from 2011 to 2012. While Europeans remain the biggest tourism group, the percentage of Chinese tourists grew by 56 percent from 2011 to 2012.

City Councilor Beverly Schafer represents the ward that is home to the famous Cape Town soccer stadium and the waterfront promenade. She said soccer helped spark this boom in tourism.

"The post-impact of the World Cup 2010, where we did not quite see as South Africans what would be the result of having such a big event, but the fact that Cape Town was so showcased around the natural beauty of it where our games were being held that it opened up the door to tourism such as our Chinese and Asian tourists," she said.

Mandarin guides, web sites

With more than 130,000 Chinese tourists visiting last year, South Africa's tourist destinations have taken notice. The CEO of Cape Town Tourism, Mariette Du Toit-Helmbold, said the industry is hiring Mandarin guides and translating web sites into Mandarin.

"The message really out to the industry has been, for us, really understand what are you are getting yourself into first. Make sure you are geared up to cater for specially the needs of the Chinese market," said Du Toit-Helmbold.

But she said that that if businesses plan to market to this burgeoning tourism group, they need to make bigger changes than just putting up a Mandarin sign at the door.

"My advice is if you really want to go after the Chinese market, build relationships. Invest in training of your staff and then really look at attention to detail, the cultural nuances and providing for that," she said. "Really go out of your way to put those little touches there that will be noticed by your Chinese traveler and visitors. Attention to detail in terms of the Chinese culture - food, important little details like providing chopsticks, things that you might almost not think about, but almost has to be top of mind. Chinese magazines, Chinese newspapers."

Economic factors

The increase in tourists has come from several factors. First, Toit-Helmbold said there is South Africa's inclusion in the economic group BRICS [Brazil, Russia, India, China, South Africa], which has strengthened the relationship with China.

Also, South Africa recently added new visa application centers in Beijing and Shanghai, and last year South African Airways added direct flights from Beijing to Johannesburg.

A freelance Mandarin-speaking tour guide in Cape Town, Shuting Lunn, said demand for her work has steadily increased since she started in the business 10 years ago.

"Yes, of course I have seen more Chinese coming... wine farms or seal island, I have noticed they have Chinese pamphlets, you can see Chinese brochures and Chinese signs. I am sure for the Chinese they feel they are home and they are welcomed," said Lunn.

She said she used to be lucky to get a group of travelers each month, and now she is having to turn away business.

Larger groups

While Cape Town tourism has been geared toward European and American travelers, who tend to travel in smaller groups or as couples, the Chinese market, at least at this point, is more focused on group tours.

Toit-Helmbold said some wineries are adding new tasting rooms to accommodate large groups, whereas in the past they used to be geared toward more intimate rooms for smaller groups and couples.

"The average Chinese visitors that are coming prefer big-group travel, whereas Cape Town, in particular, has been more geared toward foreign independent travelers, smaller groups. So I do not think everyone in the industry is geared for the Chinese market as of yet," said Toit-Helmbold.

As this market continues to grow, however, Toit-Helmbold recommends businesses do their homework, and get ahead of the game.

You May Like

Video British Fighters on Frontline of Islamic State Information War

It’s estimated that several hundred British citizens are fighting for Islamic State alongside other foreign jihadists More

Pakistan's Political Turmoil Again Shines Spotlight on Military

Thousands of protesters calling for PM Sharif to step down continue protests in front of parliament, as critics fear political impasse could spur another military coup More

Photogallery Ebola Quarantines Spark Anxiety in Liberian Capital

Food prices rise sharply as residents attempting purchases clash with security forces, leaving one person dead More

This forum has been closed.
Comment Sorting
Comments
     
by: Henri
May 09, 2013 5:01 PM
What tourists need to remember is Cape Town is not South Africa. You can say it's the smoke of mirrors of South Africa. It's the only working province in South Africa, and NOT controlled by the ANC (SA) Government - henrileriche.com

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Native Bees May Help Save Cropsi
X
Deborah Block
August 22, 2014 12:23 AM
U.S. President Barack Obama has called for a federal strategy to promote the health of bees that have been declining. The honeybee has been waning due to parasites, disease and pesticides. Wild bees may be used to take over their role as crop pollinators. Scientists first need to learn a lot more about wild bees, says biologist Sam Droege, who is pioneering the first national inventory on native bees. VOA’s Deborah Block went to his research laboratory in Beltsville, Maryland, to bring you more.
Video

Video Native Bees May Help Save Crops

U.S. President Barack Obama has called for a federal strategy to promote the health of bees that have been declining. The honeybee has been waning due to parasites, disease and pesticides. Wild bees may be used to take over their role as crop pollinators. Scientists first need to learn a lot more about wild bees, says biologist Sam Droege, who is pioneering the first national inventory on native bees. VOA’s Deborah Block went to his research laboratory in Beltsville, Maryland, to bring you more.
Video

Video US Defense Officials Plan for Long-Term Strategy to Contain Islamic State

U.S. defense officials say American air strikes in Iraq have helped deter Islamic State militants for the time being, but that a broad international effort is needed to defeat the extremists permanently. Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel warned Thursday that the group formerly known as the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant, or ISIL, is better organized, and financially and militarily stronger than any other known terrorist group. Zlatica Hoke has more.
Video

Video Drug-Resistant Malaria Spreads in Southeast Asia

On Thailand’s border with Myanmar, also known as Burma, a malaria research and treatment clinic is stepping up efforts to eliminate a drug-resistant form of the parasite - before it spreads abroad. Steve Sandford reports from Mae Sot, Thailand.
Video

Video Gaza Conflict, Hamas Popularity Challenge Abbas

The Palestinian unity government of Mahmoud Abbas has failed to convince Hamas to agree to Egyptian-negotiated terms with Israel on a Gaza cease-fire. VOA State Department Correspondent Scott Stearns reports on what the Gaza conflict means for President Abbas, with whom U.S. officials have worked for years on a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
Video

Video Nigeria's 'Nollywood' Movie Industry Rolls in High Gear

Twenty years after its birth in a video shop in Lagos, Nigeria's "Nollywood" is one of the most prolific film industries on earth. Despite low budgets and whirlwind production schedules, Nigerian films are wildly popular in Africa and industry professionals say they hope, in the future, their films will be as great in quality as they are in quantity. Heather Murdock has more for VOA from Lagos.
Video

Video UN Launches 'Biggest Aid Operation in 30 Years' in Iraq

The United Nations has launched what it describes as one of the biggest aid operations in 30 years in northern Iraq, as hundreds of thousands of refugees flee the extremist Sunni militant group calling itself the Islamic State. As Kurdish and Iraqi forces battle the Sunni insurgents, the fighting has forced more people to flee their homes. Kurdish authorities say the international community must act now to avert a humanitarian catastrophe. Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London.
Video

Video Cambodian American Hip Hop Artist Sings of Personal Struggles

A growing underground movement of Cambodian American hip hop artists is rapping about the struggles of living in urban America. Most, if not all of them, are refugees or children of refugees who came to the United States from Cambodia to escape the Khmer Rouge genocide of the 1970s. Through their music, the artists hope to give voice to immigrants who have been struggling quietly for years. Elizabeth Lee reports from Long Beach, California.
Video

Video African Media Tries to Educate Public About Ebola

While the Ebola epidemic continues to claim lives in West Africa, information technology specialists, together with radio and TV reporters, are battling misinformation and prejudice about the disease - using social media to educate the public about the deadly virus. VOA’s George Putic has more.

AppleAndroid