29 January 2014
The opening of a South African Tourism office in Lagos, Nigeria, was an invitation for Nigerians, Ghanaians and other countries in West Africa to explore the beauty of South Africa, Tourism Minister Marthinus van Schalkwyk said at the opening in the Nigerian capital on Tuesday.
Van Schalkwyk said the regional office would serve as a tourism hub from which South Africa would look to grow its presence in West Africa. It is the first South African Tourism regional marketing office on the African continent.
“Yes, we mark an important milestone here today, but it is exactly this, a milestone, along a road we have long been walking with the travel trade of this region.”
“During this time we’ve invested heavily in understanding the needs of the West African traveller so as to ensure that your holiday experience is as rewarding or memorable to you as it is to us.
“To that end, we have also been working tirelessly to ensure that South Africa offers West African travellers a holiday that enriches their lives through a world of new experiences,” he said.
Despite the pressure brought about by 2008’s global recession, South Africa’s tourism sector continued to grow.
While tourist arrivals from the United States and the Eurozone – South Africa’s trade partners – had not shown a large increase, those from the rest of Africa recorded positive growth.
Van Schalkwyk said that 73 282 Nigerian tourists visited South Africa in 2012 – an overall 13.8% increase from the 64 402 Nigerian tourists who visited South Africa in 2011. At the end of June 2013, Nigerian arrivals had continued to grow on a strong trajectory: 15.9% growth on the same period in 2012 to 40 097 tourist arrivals.
“Likewise, tourist arrivals from Ghana to South Africa grew a phenomenal 23.8% in 2012, when South Africa welcomed 22 953 Ghanaian tourists. Up to end June 2013, arrivals from Ghana were growing at 27.3%, to 13 663 tourist arrivals for the six- month period.
“Global interest in visiting Africa is at an all-time high, and it is also our intention to do our bit to convert this interest into increased arrivals across the continent,” Van Schalkwyk said.