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

US Imposes Sanctions on Alleged Honduran Drug Gang

Treasury department alleges Los Valles group is responsible for smuggling tens of thousands of kilograms of cocaine into US each month More

At 91, Marvel Creator Stan Lee Continues to Expand his Universe

Company's chief emeritus hopes to interest new generation of children in superheroes of all shapes and sizes by publishing content across multiple media platforms More

Photogallery New Drug Protects Against Virus in Ebola Family

Study by researchers at University of Texas Medical Branch, Tekmira Pharmaceuticals is first looking at drug's effectiveness after onset of symptoms 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.
African Media Tries to Educate Public About Ebolai
X
George Putic
August 20, 2014 8:57 PM
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.
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.
Video

Video Ferguson Calls For Justice as Anger, Violence Grips Community

Violence, anger and frustration continue to grip the small St. Louis suburb of Ferguson, Missouri. Protests broke out after a white police officer fatally shot an unarmed black teenager on August 9. The case has sparked outrage around the nation and prompted the White House to send U.S. Attorney Eric Holder to the small community of just over 20,000 people. VOA’s Mary Alice Salinas has more from Ferguson.
Video

Video Beheading Of US Journalist Breeds Outrage

U.S. and British authorities have launched an investigation into an Islamic State video showing the beheading of kidnapped American journalist James Foley by a militant with a British accent. The extremist group, which posted the video on the Internet Tuesday, said the murder was revenge for U.S. airstrikes on militant positions in Iraq - and has threatened to execute another American journalist it is holding. Henry Ridgwell has more from London.
Video

Video Family Robots - The Next Big Thing?

Robots that can help us with daily chores like cooking and cleaning are a long way off, but automatons that serve as family companions may be much closer. Researchers in the United States, France, Japan and other countries are racing to build robots that can entertain and perform some simpler tasks for us. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video In Ukraine, Fear and Distrust Remain Where Fighting has Stopped

As the Ukrainian military reclaims control of eastern cities from pro-Russian separatists, residents are getting a chance to rebuild their lives. VOA's Gabe Joselow reports from the town of Kramatorsk in Donetsk province, where a sense of fear is still in the air, and distrust of the government in Kyiv still runs deep.
Video

Video Five Patients Given Experimental Ebola Drug Said to Be Improving

The World Health Organization has approved the use of experimental treatments for Ebola patients in West Africa. The Ebola outbreak there is unprecedented, the disease deadly. The number of people who have died from Ebola has surpassed 1,200. VOA's Carol Pearson reports on the ethical considerations of allowing experimental drugs to be used.
Video

Video China Targets Overseas Assets of Corrupt Officials

As China presses forward with its anti-graft effort, authorities are targeting corrupt officials who have sent family members and assets overseas. The efforts have stirred up a debate at home on exactly how many officials take that route and how likely it is they will be caught. Rebecca Valli has this report.
Video

Video Leading The Fight Against Islamic State, Kurds Question Iraqi Future

Western countries including the United States have begun arming the Kurdish Peshmerga forces in northern Iraq to aid their battle against extremist Sunni militants from the Islamic State. But there are concerns that a heavily-armed Kurdistan Regional Government, or KRG, might seek to declare independence and cause the break-up of the Iraqi state. As Henry Ridgwell reports from London, the KRG says it will only seek greater autonomy from Baghdad.
Video

Video In Rural Kenya, Pressure Builds Against Female Circumcision

In some Kenyan communities, female genital mutilation remains a rite of passage. But activists are pushing back, with education for girls and with threats of punishment those who perform the circumcision. Mohammed Yusuf looks at the practice in the rural eastern community of Tharaka-Nithi.

AppleAndroid