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6 November 2012

High-profile star backing for South Africa from its biggest tourism market

South Africa’s marketing efforts in its biggest long-haul tourism market, the United Kingdom, received a major boost today with Virgin Atlantic airline’s promotion of its festive season London-Cape Town route receiving backing from some of the UK’s biggest 1980’s music artists.

From left: Virgin Atlantic SA Country Manager Simon Newton-Smith, Martin Fry, Nik Kershaw, Tony Hadley, SAT CMO Roshene Singh, Rick Astley, Leee John and City of Cape Town MAYCO member for Tourism, Events and Marketing Grant Pascoe.

“I first came to South Africa on tour with Atlantic Starr many years ago and it’s such a beautiful country. There’s something really warm about being here and performing to such receptive audiences. There’s just a ‘vibe’ to this place as soon as you get here and it’s a really special place for me to come,” said John.

Over 420 000 UK tourists visited South Africa in 2011, with Virgin Atlantic’s SA Country Manager, Simon Newton-Smith, saying at a press conference in Cape Town today that the festive season London-Cape Town route is expected to carry 31 000 tourists from the UK into Cape Town this season and generate over R280 million to the Western Cape economy.

The direct London-Cape Town flight launched on 18 October 2012 and will run until the end of April 2013, with daily flights available on Virgin Atlantic on this popular route from the beginning of November 2012.

“Virgin Atlantic is back in Cape Town, for the 13th consecutive year now. We’re expecting to bring over 31 000 UK tourists to Cape Town on this seasonal route, exposing a lot of Brits to what we know is the best city in the world,” Newton-Smith said today. 

Virgin Atlantic is promoting the festive season route by sponsoring the Rewind 80’s Festival, which will see artists such as Rick Astley, Spandau Ballet’s Tony Hadley, Belinda Carlisle, Imagination’s Leee John, Nik Kershaw, ABC’s Martin Fry and the Human League performing three concerts in South Africa this week.  The artists flew into South Africa on Virgin Atlantic’s London-Cape Town flight and they will perform two shows in Cape Town this week and one over the weekend in Gauteng.  

“We know South Africa is on the bucket list for hundreds of thousands of UK tourists, the big question for everyone is always how they get here. This is why we’re particularly excited about this flight from Virgin into Cape Town, on the back of our UK tourist numbers increasing by 5.5% in the first six months of 2012, during which time UK tourists spent over R1.2 billion in South Africa,” South African Tourism’s Chief Marketing Officer, Roshene Singh, said at the press conference. 

“And for us, as we look to promote South Africa as a lifestyle destination, having the Rewind 80’s festival here is the perfect fit. Word of mouth is the biggest way of marketing our country and its great having some of the UK’s biggest music stars here, sharing their experiences in South Africa,” Singh added.

For Rick Astley, who sold 40 million records worldwide with major hits in the 80s such as “Never Gonna Give You Up’, ‘Whenever You Need Somebody’ and ‘Together Forever’ experiencing first-hand the ‘natural and obvious beauty people instantly think of when they think about Cape Town’ was a major highlight, as he sat with the majestic Table Mountain peering out behind him.

“I’ve got friends and neighbours back in the UK, who are good fun and very friendly, and that’s what I’ve experienced in Cape Town, where we have been so warmly received by everyone,” Astley added.

Hadley, whose hit ‘Gold’ was the theme song for Team Great Britain at the recent London 2012 Olympics, said he had come to South Africa many times before, but it was ‘unbelievable’ how much the country had changed for the better over the years.

“There’s a historical connection between South Africa and Great Britain and it’s getting stronger and stronger. The hospitality of the South African people has been fantastic and so has the food, and I have really been enjoying my cob and kingklip. We’re going on a wine tour, which I am really looking forward to. I am here with my family and we’re really looking forward to having a great time in South Africa,” said Hadley.

Another who is no stranger to South Africa is Leee John, whose hits with Imagination such as ‘Just an Illusion’, ‘Body Talk’ and ‘Music and Lights’ are hugely popular in South Africa.

“I first came to South Africa on tour with Atlantic Starr many years ago and it’s such a beautiful country. There’s something really warm about being here and performing to such receptive audiences. There’s just a ‘vibe’ to this place as soon as you get here and it’s a really special place for me to come,” said John.  

The City of Cape Town’s Mayoral Committee Member for Tourism, Events and Marketing, Grant Pascoe, said: “Tourism creates over 200 000 jobs in the city and the UK is a key market which we’re looking to grow. So this partnership (with Virgin Atlantic) is a very important one for us”. 

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