Asia, India, the Middle East and Africa are showing increased interest in Johannesburg as a tourism destination.

“Our main source markets remain the United States, the United Kingdom, Germany and Holland, with China and India indicating the most growth potential,” said Joburg Tourism Spokesperson, Laura Vercueil.

Sales and Marketing Manager of the African Pride Melrose Arch Hotel, Lexy Ramaroka, agreed, adding that the list of source markets was “ever-growing”, while the traditional first-world market continued to show interest.

“Emerging markets are African, of course (Nigeria, Kenya, Ethiopia, etc) as they have more freedom to travel, and are attracted by the shopping and entertainment that Sandton, Melrose Arch and Rosebank have to offer,” she said.

Asian travellers – and some Europeans – are particularly interested in the history of apartheid and the mine lands, said Fezeka Maboi, Marketing and Communications Manager of Katlego Luxury Tours and Safaris, adding that it was easier to sell Joburg as a destination to the younger crowd and solo travellers as it fitted more into their scene and interests.

Secretariat of the Sandton Tourism and Business Association (ST&BA), Mandy Watson, told Tourism Update that Johannesburg held appeal for most source markets, and highlighted township tourism as an ongoing growth area. “The Greater Alexandra Tourism & Heritage Association (GATHA) is working hard to create tourism routes in Alex and ST&BA is assisting them where possible.”

A key attraction in Sandton, the Bryanston Organic Market, has seen steady growth in visitors from China, Japan, Korea and Taiwan, as well as from the erstwhile Eastern Europe countries.    

“In our area, a whole day can be spent between Liliesleaf, the market,Montecasino with its Bird & Retile Park etc. This can then be extended to the Lion Park and the Cradle of Humankind area,” said Glenda More, COO of the Bryanston Organic Market.

Language barriers are a challenge for certain source markets, said More. “Tourist attractions in the city need help on hand to ensure that they can communicate clearly and efficiently with all their visitors.”