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20 June 2013

Voortrekker Monument and Nature Reserve recognised in Chinese awards

The Voortrekker Monument and Nature Reserve walked away with gold at the Chinese Tourists Welcoming Awards 2013, held at the China Outbound Travel & Tourism Market in Beijing in April 2013.

Sonja Lombard with the award as Dr Wolfgang Georg Arlt looks on.  Sonja Lombard with the award as Dr Wolfgang Georg Arlt looks on

We managed to grow our Chinese visitors by 45% in the 1 March 2012 to 28 February 2013 financial year, when we welcomed 44 037 Chinese tourists, compared with 30 467 tourists in the previous financial year. – Sonja Lombard, managing director of the Voortrekker Monument and Nature Reserve

The Chinese Tourists Welcoming Awards (CTW Awards) have for the past 10 years been recognised as an important symbol of quality for the international Chinese outbound market. The first CTW Awards were held at ITB Berlin in 2004. They moved to the China Outbound Travel & Tourism Market in Beijing in 2007, their current home.

The CTW Awards showcase outstanding examples of the best way to welcome Chinese outbound travellers. They award destinations and tourism service providers that have successfully turned Chinese visitors into satisfied customers who recommend these destinations and providers to their friends and colleagues.

The Voortrekker Monument and Nature Reserve received the gold award in the Overall Performance category. Bronze, silver and gold awards were also given in the following categories: Internet/Media; Service Quality; Marketing; and Product Innovation.

This is the second time the Voortrekker Monument has been recognised with a CTW Award. In 2009 it received the bronze award in the Internet/Media category.

‘It is not common practice to award the same company an award more than once, but the panel felt it appropriate and deserving, considering the Voortrekker Monument's excellent performance and track record,’ said Sonja Lombard, managing director of the Voortrekker Monument and Nature Reserve.

‘And what made it even more special is that we are the only monument/cultural attraction to receive an award,’ she added. Sun International is the only other South African company to receive a CTW Award in 2013. It was awarded bronze in the Product Innovation category.

Lombard points to the Voortrekker Monument and Nature Reserve's increasing popularity among Chinese tourists as a reason for receiving the award.

‘We  managed to grow our Chinese visitors by 45% in the 1 March 2012 to 28 February 2013 financial year, when we welcomed 44 037 Chinese tourists, compared with 30 467 tourists in the previous financial year,’ she said.

According to Lombard, the March to May 2013 figures are also up by 35% when compared with the same period in 2012, with the monument attracting almost 50% of the total Chinese tourist market to South Africa.

In the past few years, the Chinese market has been increasingly attracted to South Africa as a tourist destination. In 2012, 132 334 Chinese tourists visited South Africa, a 55.9% increase on the 84 883 who visited the country in 2011.

Said Lombard: ‘The monument offers a unique experience to the Chinese, who are mainly cultural and shopping tourists who expect exceptional quality and value for money.

‘As far as unique experiences go, when they enter our premises they are greeted by wild animals roaming freely in our nature reserve. We have also erected a banner inside the monument that shares the CTW Award in Afrikaans, English and Chinese. This is important to the Chinese tourists as the award represents a mark of quality for them,’ she said.

The monument has also introduced simplified Chinese information boards throughout, which assist with the language barrier. A visitor's guide and souvenirs in Chinese also provide information on what the monument has to offer.

Dr Wolfgang Georg Arlt, director of the China Outbound Tourism Research Institute (the organiser of the CTW Awards), said during the awards ceremony that Chinese tourists are travelling to ever more diverse destinations and are increasingly looking for experiences rather than sightseeing.

Said Lombard: ‘This provides a unique opportunity for South Africa with its wonderful diversity of experiences.’