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28 January 2014

SAT opens its first regional marketing office in Africa

Tourism Minister Marthinus van Schalkwyk opened the first South African Tourism (SAT) regional marketing office on the African continent in Lagos, Nigeria, on 28 January 2014.

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

As a nation, we see the special and longstanding relationship between Nigeria and South Africa as pivotal towards building an Africa that is economically vibrant and resilient. – Minister of Tourism Marthinus van Schalkwyk

The minister was accompanied by Chief Edem Duke, Nigeria’s Tourism, Culture and National Orientation Minister.

Van Schalkwyk told the West African travel trade that South African Tourism’s new home in Lagos demonstrated and confirmed the resolve between South Africa and Nigeria to strengthen relations for the benefit of their respective populations and for the long-term gain of the African continent.

‘Our presence here serves to confirm our support for increased economic co-operation between the southern Africa and western Africa regions. As a nation, we see the special and longstanding relationship between Nigeria and South Africa as pivotal towards building an Africa that is economically vibrant and resilient,’ he said.

Van Schalkwyk added that the key to creating this vibrancy and resilience is to work together to develop tourism industries that have the potential to contribute meaningfully to GDPs and job creation on the continent.

‘Tourism is certainly one such industry. Investing in our tourism network on the continent is not only indicative of our commitment to African co-operation, it also makes business sense,’ he pointed out.

Growth in African arrivals has been the driver of growth in the continent’s tourism industry, according to Van Schalkwyk, shielding it from the recent economic downturn. ‘This growth in African arrivals is also what we believe is going to keep our continent’s tourism industry on a sustainable growth path in future,’ he said.

The Lagos office is to serve as a tourism hub from which SAT will look to grow its presence in West Africa. SAT has invested heavily in understanding the needs of the West African traveller to ensure their holiday experience is rewarding and memorable, enriched by new experiences.

In 2012, 73 282 Nigerian tourists visited South Africa, an increase of 13.8% on the 64 402 tourists who visited the country in 2011. This growth trajectory continued in 2013. Between January and September 2013, tourist arrivals from Nigeria grew by 16.1% to 62 513 arrivals when compared with the same period in 2012.

Tourist arrivals from Ghana have also achieved phenomenal growth, increasing by 23.8% in 2012 when South Africa welcomed 22 953 Ghanaian tourists. From January to September 2013, arrivals from Ghana grew by 21.8% to 20 351 arrivals when compared with the same period the previous year.

‘It is our intention to continue to grow arrivals from the West African region to South Africa, and we are delighted to take our place here as part of the larger regional travel community. Global interest in visiting Africa is at an all-time high, and we plan to do our bit to convert this interest into increased arrivals across the continent,’ concluded Van Schalkwyk.

South African Tourism has extended an invitation to the rest of Africa to showcase the continent by exhibiting together at the annual tourism INDABA in Durban, taking place from the 10 to 12 May 2013.