1 February 2012

Tourism to gain from direct flight to China

Media Statement by the Office of Mr Marthinus van Schalkwyk, Minister of Tourism and South African Tourism

Marthinus van Schalkwyk, South Africa's Minister of Tourism Tourism Minister Marthinus van Schalkwyk

The Chinese economy continues to grow despite difficult global economic conditions, bringing with it an increasing outbound travel market. This underscores the fact that airlift certainly forms a critical link between trading nations and tourism markets. It also comes at a time when China is emerging as a strong trade partner and an important tourism market for South Africa. - Mr Marthinus van Schalkwyk, Minister of Tourism

The Minister of Tourism, Mr Marthinus van Schalkwyk, on an official visit to China, was part of the initiative that sees South African Airways (SAA) proudly launching its first ever non-stop flight to China this week. The inaugural flight landed in Bejing on 31 January 2012.

“The Chinese economy continues to grow despite difficult global economic conditions, bringing with it an increasing outbound travel market. This underscores the fact that airlift certainly forms a critical link between trading nations and tourism markets. It also comes at a time when China is emerging as a strong trade partner and an important tourism market for South Africa,” said the minister.

The introduction of non-stop flights between the two destinations promises to facilitate both business and leisure travel between the two countries as well as to all the Southern African Development Community (SADC) and other countries on our continent.

We have without a doubt witnessed an increase in trade relations between China and South Africa, with considerable Chinese investment in South Africa, and an increase in interest, awareness and understanding between our two countries. This period has also, to the significance of all of us in the tourism industry, coincided with a strong increase in tourists from China visiting South Africa.

In 2009, we saw 42 083 Chinese tourists visiting South Africa, and, in 2010, that number increased by 62,3%, to 68 309. The statistics to date for Chinese visitors to South Africa from January to September 2011 show that just under 60 000 visitors (59187) had travelled to our shores – 18,1% more than over the same period in 2010.

China has been identified as a viable source market for international tourist arrivals to South Africa. The majority of travellers (66%) are between the ages of 25-44. This market experienced a phenomenal 42% growth in 2010. Business travel is also showing great improvement, growing by 18,4% between 2007-2010. In 2010, the average length of stay grew to 14,9 nights. The China travel market is therefore showing characteristics of a maturing travel market.

In China, over the last five years, 45 new airports have been built with another 52 in the pipeline for the next decade. It is therefore important to unlock this emerging market. China’s outbound tourism is expected to double by 2012. It is estimated that the 800 million new travellers expected worldwide in 2014, 360 million (45%) will travel on Asia Pacific routes, and, of those, 310 million will be associated with China.

The SAA non-stop flight will now enable Chinese visitors to experience that unique, warm South African welcome and first-class service from the moment they arrive at the airport in Beijing, until they touch down on our rich African soil. We congratulate SAA on the launch of this flight. Further to this, the opening of two new visa application centres in Beijing and Shanghai has made our destination even more accessible.

The year 2011 was an extremely successful one for South African Tourism’s marketing strategies in the China market, resulting in a number of key awards and accolades from our Chinese trade and media partners. These awards included the following:

Better Homes and Gardens magazine – Leisure Destination of the Year award

· The Business TravelMagazine – Best Destination for MICE Tourism

· China Travel Agent magazine – Destination Promotion Award in 2011

· Lifestyle and Gotrip magazines – Most Glamorous Travel Destination

· Luxury Travelersmagazine – Most Favoured Travel Destination

· Sina.com – Sina Travel – Best Partner

                                       o Top Travelmagazine – Best Destination for Vigorous Activities

                                       o Travel WeeklyMagazine – Leisure Destination of the Year award

                                       o World TravellerMagazine – Best Destination for Outdoor Adventure

Some of the trade activities included:

· the signing of seven joint marketing agreements with local tour operators;

· the training of over 1000 Chinese tour operators,more than 700 over our initial annual target; and

· an innovative campaign with China Travel Agent, for which the salespeople shared personal South African travel stories and created attractive itineraries.

SAA will operate the non-stop flight three times a week with its Airbus A340-600 long-haul aircraft, while passengers will be able to make use of the Star Alliance lounges in Beijing.

Ends...

Enquiries:

Ministry of Tourism

Melene Rossouw

Media Director

Tel: 27 21 465 7240

Cell: 27 82 753 7107

Email:mrossouw@tourism.gov.za

Ministry of Tourism

Natasha Rockman

Media Liasion

Tel: 27 21 465 7240

Cell: 27 76 429 2264

Email:nrockman@tourism.gov.za

Department of Tourism

Trevor Bloem

Chief Director: Communications

Cell: 27 82 771 6729

South African Tourism

Jermaine Craig

Global Communications Manager

Cell: 27 83 2010 121

Email: Jermaine@southafrica.net