Twenty-four million potential Dutch and Flemish tourists from the Benelux countries could be lured by linking South Africa’s cultural and language similarities with theirs, according to a Belgian-based tour operator specialising in travel to southern and east Africa.

The Flemish company, Live to Travel, brings an average of 4 500 to 5 000 tourists annually to South Africa, both groups and FIT travellers.

“From inception (in 2004), we have focused on the linguistic and cultural relationship between the local Afrikaans language speakers and the Flemish and Dutch people,” said Live to Travel Founder, Bruno De Lathauwer.

“This has helped to make us the number-one operator selling South African tours in Flanders, where between 80% and 90% of Belgian tourists to South Africa come from,” he said.

By using Afrikaans in their marketing collateral, including on menus and welcome letters, South African tourism suppliers would be sure to attract more visitors from the Benelux countries, commented De Lathauwer.

“There are very few places in the world where Flemish and Dutch travellers can use their mother tongue. With Afrikaans being very closely related, South Africa is one of those places,” he explained.

Map of the Benelux Union