19 May 2014 by Andrea Weiss

South Africans – the 'friendliest people in the world'

There’s nothing quite like a friendly local to make your trip a success, and when it comes to that particular trait, South Africans come out tops, according to Helena Egan of TripAdvisor.

Helena Egan of TripAdvisor (right) with CNN's Richard Quest at INDABA 2014

Why visit South Africa? Because the people are just so friendly and clearly 'it comes from the heart'.

That's the word of Helena Egan, head of destination marketing and sales for Europe, Middle East and Africa with the global travel site TripAdvisor. TripAdvisor has made its name by creating a platform for fellow travellers to share their advice and experiences.

At the recent INDABA 2014 travel show in Durban, Egan took part in a 'Global Media Face Off' debate, moderated by CNN's Richard Quest. Fellow panellists were economist Mike Schussler, brand guru Thebe Ikalafeng and South African Tourism CEO Thulani Nzima.

Her comment about friendly South Africans came in answer to the question: 'Why should the world come to South Africa?' After the debate, Egan reiterated her view '100%'.

'I was having dinner with friends recently,' she said, 'and they remarked how South Africans are just so friendly and proud of their country. It really comes across.'

Egan has been with TripAdvisor since 2008 and prior to that worked for Travel Weekly in the United States, as well as VisitBritain and numerous cruise lines. Currently resident in London, she has been travelling all her life. 

She rates among her favourite travel experiences hiking on a beach in Cape Verde and kayaking in Hermanus in South Africa.

According to TripAdvisor statistics, people most interested in visiting South Africa are (in order of ranking) from the UK, US, Germany, Australia, Netherlands, Canada, France, Italy and Switzerland. There's also increasing interest from China, Austria and Belgium.

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