South Africa’s message

By Chris Graeme [email protected]

Portugal has been identified as a ‘watch market’ by South African Tourism as the number of Portuguese tourists has shot up by 14 per cent for the period January to September 2009 in comparison with 2008.

The reasons for the upsurge, apart from hard promotional and cultural work carried out by the South African Embassy in Portugal and outgoing Ambassador Thandiwe Profit-MacLean over the past three years, are South Africa’s proximity to Mozambique and the importance of that market to Portugal as well as the large Portuguese Diaspora in South Africa.

“Portugal is becoming an increasingly important market for South Africa and more and more people from Portugal are visiting us,” said Jabu Mabuzza, Non-Executive Chairperson for South African Tourism, in an exclusive interview with the Algarve Resident.

In 2008, arrivals from Portugal to South Africa grew seven per cent on 2007 with more than 31,000 Portuguese visitors in 2008. For the period January to September 2009 that figure had shot up by 14 per cent with more than 22,500 visitors.

This summer’s World Cup is expected to attract about 450,000 visitors and a further two million visitors up until 2014.

In monetary figures, the amounts in direct foreign investment and tourism are impressive for the modernisation of the South African economy, including 1.3 billion euros over the 35 days the World Cup will be staged from June 11 and many more billions in the coming years as spin-offs due to international exposure from the event.

The South African government has invested around 100 billion euros on infrastructure, stadiums, rail and road network improvements, airport modernisation and the upgrading of hotel and guest house stock.

He added that Portugal and South Africa can have a lot in common as strategic partners in areas such as renewable energy, information technology, telecommunications, research and development, pharmaceuticals and the financial services sector.

“Typically, visitors to South Africa from Portugal during the World Cup, who will be seeing Portugal play in Durban, Cape Town and Port Elizabeth, will be visiting the country for at least three weeks and, when not watching the matches, will want to tour around which is great for the economy,” said Wendy Tlou, Global Manager: Communications for South Africa Tourism.

“Given the global recession and GDP growth rates standing at 2.9 per cent, the World Cup couldn’t come at a better time for South Africa and the country aims to use the event to raise awareness at the colourful diversity, culture and heritage of the country and the potential for South African business investors using strong links with Portugal to gain access to the growing and lucrative Brazilian market, which has also been identified as growing investment market along with China and Japan.

“The message is that South Africa has changed for the better and offers countless opportunities and strategic business partnerships for those with innovative ideas and with a crackdown on crime and a massive new police presence the concerns of the past are being met,” she said.