South Africa has evolved from a safari-oriented destination to a world-class haven catering to diverse tastes of international travelers, according to the country’s top envoy to Korea.
The country at the foot of Africa has been relatively unexplored by Korean visitors over the years, despite offering wide-ranging attractions from natural adventure to cultural heritage.
“We are now one of the most sought-after destinations in the world offering a variety of unforgettable experiences in leisure, ecotourism, cultural tourism and business,” South African Ambassador Nozuko Gloria Bam said at a gathering with Korean tour operators in Seoul on Nov. 7.
Quoting the late President Nelson Mandela’s speech at the maiden international tourism conference Indaba in 1995, she said, “Our natural beauty only offers a fitting setting for our country’s most valuable asset -- our people. Ours is a nation of warm and generous people. Our various cultures and heritages, once exploited to divide our people, have turned into a source of strength and richness in every sphere of life.”
Bam encouraged people to attend the Inbada conference, one of the largest tourism promotion events in Africa that takes place May 8-10 next year.
(From left) South African Embassy First Secretary Raymond Manzini, Deputy Head of Mission Ismail Esau, Ambassador Nozuko Gloria Bam and South African Airways General Manager Hans Kim (Joel Lee/The Korea Herald)
Tourism is one of six selected drivers of the South African economy, alongside manufacturing, mining, finance, communications and retail. The country received nearly 19,000 Korean tourists last year, a 40 percent on-year increase.
“There are seven reasons why South Africa is the most beautiful tourism destination in the world,” said the embassy’s Deputy Head of Mission Ismail Esau, referring to the country’s topographical and biological diversity, sundry coastlines, exotic landscapes, action-packed outdoor activities, ethno-cultural diversity, vibrant cities and towns and well-connected infrastructure.
South Africa is one of the world’s 17 countries classified as “mega-diverse” in terms of terrain, vegetation and wildlife. It has 2,800 kilometers of coastlines flanked by two different ocean currents, including nearly 50 blue-flag beaches, marinas and coastal sanctuaries. Various sharks, whales and dolphins can be seen near the coast where divers can get up close to them.
There are world-class golf courses, walking trails, suburban jungles and serpentine rivers well suited for outdoor activities. Thrill-seekers can see in person the “big five” of African animals: elephants, rhinos, buffalos, leopards and lions.
Johannesburg, Durban, Bloemfontein and Nelspruit are internationally renowned travel destinations, said Esau, also recommending smaller sites and towns like Hermanus, Pilgrim’s Rest, Sutherland, Jeffreys Bay, George, Clarens, Oudtshoorn and Dullstroom.
South African Airways -- a member of the Star Alliance -- offers flights to Johannesburg from Incheon via a layover in Hong Kong, which together takes some 17 hours of flying time.
By Joel Lee (firstname.lastname@example.org