South Africa has identified India as a key focus market for boosting tourism and it will shortly launch an aggressive campaign to attract tourists from there.
South African Tourism Minister Derek Hanekom announced this at the INDABA tourism fair here. He said that the country had received more than 80,000 Indian tourists last year and his ministry planned to dedicate to India a significant part of its advertising budget of nearly $8 million this year, with the objective of boosting significantly the arrivals from India.
“India has a huge potential and our challenge is to see what is needed in order for this market to grow and for us to get a fair share of the huge pool of Indian travellers,” Hanekom told this correspondent.
He said Indian travellers felt at home in South Africa as they had a very large population of people of Indian origin, especially in Durban.
“Mahatma Gandhi had also lived here in Durban. Here, just like in India, we have different cultures and different religions living in harmony with one another,” he added.
INDABA, which means gathering in Zulu, has positioned itself as the largest tourism fair in the African continent and attracts participation from all African countries which come to display their new products and services, as tourism is an essential sector for creating employment as well as economic growth in the least developed continent in the world.
“The safari experience is certainly one of the key selling point of Africa. We don’t have the Taj Mahal or some of the incredible sites that you have in India, but here in South Africa, you can be guaranteed to see the Big 5 (Lions, Elephants, Rhinos, Buffaloes and Leopards) in just one, single safari,” Hanekom said.