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

How to Safeguard Your Mobile Privacy

As the digital world becomes more mobile, so too do concerns about eroding privacy and increased hacking More

'Desert Dancer' Chronicles Iranian Underground Dance Troupe

Film by Richard Raymond is based on true story of Afshin Ghaffarian and his friends More

Audio Top 5 Songs for Week Ending May 23

This week's lineup can be summed up like this: 'It's The Same Old Song' - but they're great songs - featuring Walk The Moon, The Weeknd, Wiz Khalifa and Charlie Puth 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.
Female American Soldiers: Healing Through Filmmakingi
X
Bernard Shusman
May 24, 2015 2:55 PM
According to the United States Defense Department, there are more than 200-thousand women serving in the U.S. Armed Forces.  Like their male counterparts, females have experiences that can be very traumatic.  VOA's Bernard Shusman tells us about a program that is helping some American women in the military heal through filmmaking.
Video

Video Female American Soldiers: Healing Through Filmmaking

According to the United States Defense Department, there are more than 200-thousand women serving in the U.S. Armed Forces.  Like their male counterparts, females have experiences that can be very traumatic.  VOA's Bernard Shusman tells us about a program that is helping some American women in the military heal through filmmaking.
Video

Video Rolling Thunder Run Reveals Changed Attitudes Towards Vietnam War

For many US war veterans, the Memorial Day holiday is an opportunity to look back at a divisive conflict in the nation’s history and to remember those who did not make it home.
Video

Video Millions Flock to Ethiopia Polls

Millions of Ethiopians cast their votes Sunday in the first national election since the 2012 death of longtime leader Meles Zenawi. Mr. Meles' party, the Ethiopian People's Revolutionary Democratic Front, is almost certain of victory again. VOA's Anita Powell reports from Addis Ababa.
Video

Video Scientists Testing Space Propulsion by Light

Can the sun - the heart of our solar system - power a spacecraft to the edge of our solar system? The answer may come from a just-launched small satellite designed to test the efficiency of solar sail propulsion. Once deployed, its large sail will catch the so-called solar wind and slowly reach what scientists hope to be substantial speed. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video FIFA Trains Somali Referees

As stability returns to the once lawless nation of Somalia, the world football governing body, FIFA, is helping to rebuild the country’s sport sector by training referees as well as its young footballers. Abdulaziz Billow has more from Mogadishu.
Video

Video With US Child Obesity Rates on the Rise, Program Promotes Health Eating

In its fifth year, FoodCorps puts more than 180 young Americans into 500 schools across the United States, where they focus on teaching students about nutrition, engaging them with hands-on activities, and improving their access to healthy foods whether in the cafeteria or the greater community. Aru Pande has more.
Video

Video Virginia Neighborhood Draws People to Nostalgic Main Street

In the U.S., people used to grow up in small towns with a main street lined by family-owned shops and restaurants. Today, however, many main streets are worn down and empty because shoppers have been lured away by shopping malls. But in the Del Ray neighborhood of Alexandria, Virginia, main street is thriving. VOA’s Deborah Block reports it has a nostalgic feel with its small restaurants and unique stores.
Video

Video Effort Underway to Limit Damage from California Oil Spill

Cleanup crews are working around the clock to remove oil from the waters off the coastal city of Santa Barbara, in California. About 380,000 liters of oil may have leaked out before a rupture in an onshore, underground pipeline was discovered Tuesday. The environmental disaster hit the popular West Coast resort area before the Memorial Day weekend. VOA's Zlatica Hoke reports investigators have yet to determine what caused the incident.

VOA Blogs