11 July 2011

South Africa: the ideal destination for a world of lifestyle and big event tourists

South Africa is quickly emerging as fashion and lifestyle destination

Dinner in one of South Africa’s top restaurants. Dinner in one of South Africa’s top restaurants.

There is just something about South Africa that inspires creativity. South Africa has a strong and proud tradition in the performing arts, in music, in design, in crafts and in fashion. And now that tradition has become an integral part of what attracts tourists to South Africa in their hundreds of thousands.

Lifestyle events, such as this month’s Grahamstown International Arts Festival, the Durban July and Cape Town International Fashion Week, draw tourists in their thousands from South Africa, from the rest of the continent and from overseas and give the regional and metropolitan economies of the hosting cities a valuable economic shot in the arm.

The Grahamstown Arts Festival attracts about 50 000 people each year. They crowd the small Eastern Cape town, reserving all available accommodation months in advance; patronising the restaurants; filling pubs to capacity; supporting the local businesses and spending time exploring the surrounding area by taking daytrips to the many game reserves close by and to numerous delightful and charming towns and villages in the area known as ‘Frontier Country’. The city of Durban experiences a similar phenomenon during the annual Durban July, that sees fashionistas, punters and partygoers converge on the exceptional Zulu Kingdom in droves.

National South African events such as the Grahamstown National Arts Festival and Cape Town Fashion Week do more, however, than attract visitors in their thousands and generate millions of Rands in tourism revenue. They give the country, and the world, indisputable evidence that South Africa is more than the best place in the world to go on safari and adventure holidays. They prove that South Africa is a capable big event and lifestyle destination.

And as South Africa takes its rightful place as one of the best leisure holiday destinations on earth, they show a world of travelers that the delights of visiting South Africa do not begin and end with warm, sunny weather; tremendous safari and wildlife experiences; and adventure holidays rivaled by no other destination on earth. They establish South Africa as the ideal global lifestyle destination for a world of performing arts lovers, for design aficionados, for arts and crafts buyers and music lovers.

“Our wildlife and adventure attributes are known the world over, but we’re working hard globally to also position South Africa as a premier lifestyle destination. The reality is that South Africa’s National Arts Festival in Grahamstown has earned itself a reputation of being among the finest festivals of its kind in the world. Global travelers are now beginning to understand that the uniqueness of South Africa – our cultural diversity; our big, exciting cities; our wide open spaces and big blue skies; the literal colours and landscapes of South Africa, coupled with our vibrant people – make for a creatively inspiring environment,” says South African Tourism CEO, Thandiwe January-McLean.

More than this, South Africa has the infrastructure, the capability, the range of accommodation and the tourist-friendly national culture that equips it ideally to host the world. South Africa proved this last year during the FIFA World Cup when hundreds of thousands of football fans fell in love both with the destination, and with the friendly, outgoing, welcoming demeanor of the South African people.

“Cape Town Fashion Week, Jo'burg Fashion Week and Africa Fashion Week are events that South African Tourism proudly supports. They have become showcases of the inspiration that designers draw from the people and the landscape of South Africa: of garments designed for the climate of South Africa; of a hybrid of rich and fascinating cultures, faiths and culinary traditions. Of a range of lifestyles as varied and fascinating as South Africa itself.” 

There are many such lifestyle and cultural events in South Africa, and they each attract an increasingly large international fan base and audience: the Cape Town International Jazz Festival, the Joy of Jazz Festival and the Jo'burg Art Fair, for example, have become globally significant events.

In addition to thrusting the spotlight on South Africa’s attributes as a world-class lifestyle destination, national tourism marketing bodies have also commenced with a global initiative to market the big-event capability of South Africa as a destination. “We want to show the world, and our own tourism industry, that we are playing seriously globally and locally to attract more big event tourists, and supporting South Africa’s efforts to bid for and host more big, global events... be they cultural, entertainment, business or sports events,” says January-McLean.

Later this month, South African Tourism hosts the destination’s first ever Sports and Events Tourism Exchange (SETE), a forum in which the travel and tourism industry will be able to collaborate with lifestyle and sports events organisers to offer big global event producers an irresistible destination for their events. SETE takes place from 27 to 29 July at the Cape Town International Convention Centre with a view to commence discussions around a strategy to attract more big sports and cultural events to South Africa. Alongside these strategic discussions will be a trade show platform, where international buyers from various events corporations will have the opportunity to interact with local sports bodies and agents, destination marketing agencies as well as venue stakeholders and owners.

“South Africa is a welcoming and exciting destination that has the infrastructure and will to successfully host big events and the many tourists they bring. We are committed to investing the time, money and energy that is required to not only ensure last year’s World Cup delivers its legacy promise, but also to secure South Africa’s status as the best – perhaps the very best – big event destination on the planet.”

For further information contact

Jermaine Craig at South African Tourism Jessica Wheeler at Ireland Davenport

Tel: +27 11 895 3000 or 083 2010 121      Tel: +27 11 463 2252 or 071 731 7691.

Email: jermaine@southafrica.net    Jessica.Wheeler@ireland-davenport.co.za

Website www.southafrica.net

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South African Tourism is the national tourism agency responsible for the marketing of South Africa as a preferred tourist destination. It is headed up by Chief Executive Officer, Ms Thandiwe January-McLean, Chief Operating Officer Mr Timothy Scholtz and Chief Marketing Officer, Ms Roshene Singh.