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IIn sports, victories often extend beyond stadiums often sparking unparalleled passion and national pride. Following the Springboks' victory at the Rugby World Cup in France, South Africa is buzzing with such pride, hope and unity.

The nation's sport enthusiasm is evident as South Africans from all walks of life unite behind the Springboks. Fridays became #BokFridays, with locals donning national colours in a massive show of patriotism.

This sports passion, combined with South Africa's scenic beauty, rich culture, hospitality and proven track record of successfully hosting major sporting events positions it as a top sports tourism destination.

In recent years, South Africa has solidified its standing as premier sports tourism destination through hosting some of the globe's most prestigious sporting spectacles. These includes iconic events like the 1995 Rugby World Cup, the historic 2010 FIFA World Cup - the sole edition held on African soil, and the 2003 Cricket World Cup. Most recently, this year the country proudly hosted the World Table Tennis Championships Finals in May and the Netball World Cup in July and August.

Hosting these sporting events has brought lasting benefits to South Africa. Among these is the development of infrastructure, including construction of stadia, and upgrades to telecommunications and transport systems.

In its efforts to rejuvenate the tourism sector to pre-pandemic levels and beyond, South African Tourism (SA Tourism)  is strategically focusing on exploring valuable partnerships and marketing opportunities within specific sports.

Golf holds immense potential, with over 450 million enthusiasts globally. SA Tourism and the industry have identified sport and golf tourism as a key market to target in the current financial year. As a testament to this commitment, South African Tourism recently participated in the International Golf Travel Market (IGTM) event in Lisbon from October 16th to 19th..

The IGTM trade shows provides golf destinations, resorts, and courses with a valuable platform to connect with leading golf travel agents and tour operators. About 1300 people including industry professionals and buyers attended the premier event.

Participation in IGTM is part of the tourism strategy at the centre of which is collaboration with the broader tourism sector. South Africa recently partnered with BMW for the BMW International Open in Munich, Germany, held in June, and will host the upcoming BMW Golf Cup World Finals at Fancourt in George scheduled in March next year.

This year also happens to be the year that BMW celebrates 50 Years in South Africa. The BMW Roslyn plant in Pretoria North was the first plant outside of Germany to produce BMW vehicles in 1973. No doubt, this plant has contributed to our country’s skills development, knowledge economy and indeed employment.

Fittingly, the BMW International Open was won by South African golfer Thriston Lawrence. SA Tourism leveraged the partnership with BMW and capitalised on the attention garnered by Thriston's victory to position South Africa as an exceptional destination.

This yielded notable results generating a publicity value of R5 Million . Additionally, social media engagement experienced a significant uptick during this period, with over 305 mentions and a daily average of 30 engagements.

We continue to build on that because to ensure effectiveness, our marketing efforts must remain consistent especially given the fact that the golf tourism market remains largely untapped.

According to the 2022-2023 report from Future Markets Insights, the global golf tourism market was projected to reach an impressive valuation of US$ 23.1 billion in 2023, with expectations of reaching a market worth US$ 40.4 billion by the end of 2033.

Notably, the report says factors driving the growth of golf tourism include the increasing number of international and domestic tournaments, significant investments in enhancing sports infrastructure, and a substantial rise in both professional and amateur golf players globally.

Furthermore, when one considers the myriad attractions surrounding our golf courses and estates—such as the scenic wine routes, the captivating game reserves, and the opportunity to immerse oneself in diverse cultural experiences—it becomes evident that we have a significant chance of converting golf enthusiasts into future leisure tourists.

Our strides in the international tourism market are already impressive. In the first eight months of this year (from January to August), we welcomed over 5.4 million international tourists to our shores. This figure represents a remarkable 63.4% increase compared to the number of international tourists who visited us during the same period in 2022.

Participation in platforms such as the IGTM reinforces our global presence and appeal and in the long run ensure that we emerge as a formidable force to be reckoned with in sports tourism particularly golf tourism.



The Future Market Insights Report can be accessed here


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