As South Africa basks in its resurgence as a formidable global player in the travel and tourism industry, there has never been a more opportune moment to reinvigorate our strategies for destination marketing,
Earlier this year, readers of the UK newspaper The Telegraph voted South Africa “The Best Country to Visit” in the World, and Cape Town as the Best City in the World at the 2023 Telegraph Travel Awards. South Africa beat places like New Zealand, Maldives, and Japan, while Cape Town won over cities like Venice, Seville, and Vancouver.
Why do international travellers love South Africa so much? The answer isn't hard to find. South Africa offers a wide variety of experiences to cater for varied preferences, from stunning sunsets over the ocean, thrilling wildlife safaris, rich culture, and history, friendly people and world-class infrastructure. Few countries can offer all this.
Of course, the acknowledgment of South Africa as a premier destination is also thanks to the tireless work done by the greater South African tourism sector. We have been hard at work telling South African stories of excellence and exceptionalism to various global markets.
This work has intensified over the past year after the relaxation of the COVID restrictions as we seek to recover to pre-pandemic levels. The results are starting to show.
From January to August this year, close to 5.5 million international visitors came to our shores, up from just 2.1 million during the same period last year.
While we are excited and we rejoice at these impressive numbers, they're not yet at pre-COVID (2019) levels. This encourages us to work even harder, to boost our marketing and show the world what our country has to offer. And who better to help us than one of South Africa's greatest sports heroes, Siya Kolisi, the captain of our beloved national rugby team, the Springboks?
Earlier this year, Kolisi joined forces with South African Tourism as a global brand advocate. With this title, he is taking on the role of proudly championing our beautiful country to the world. South Africa is bursting with talented, accomplished individuals and Kolisi stands out. At 32, he's not just a sports star; he embodies the spirit, excellence, and passion we want to showcase about South Africa.
Who can forget 2019 when Kolisi led the Springboks to their third World Cup victory in Japan? But his impact goes beyond the game. As the first black captain of the Springboks, he has become a symbol of reconciliation, transformation, and unity, all values that brand South Africa holds dear.
This year, as Kolisi aims to repeat that 2019 triumph at the Rugby World Cup in France that is currently under way, through his love for his country he’s also working with us to bring tourism back to the levels we enjoyed 2019 before COVID-19 changed everything.
"I’m super excited about this partnership because as a proud advocate for our country, I’ve always spoken about how much I love South Africa, and what a special place it is. I see this partnership as an opportunity to promote the entire tourism sector in South Africa, and I want to be a leading voice in encouraging everyone to come and see the best of what the country, and we as South Africans, have to offer,” says Kolisi.
Kolisi stands tall in the world of sports, not just for his performance on the field but also for his influence off it. In 2020 this was confirmed when Rugby World magazine honoured him as one of rugby's most influential people.