South African Tourism will be trading on the feel-good factor at WTM London 2019 following its rugby team’s victory in the World Cup on Saturday.
Kgomotso Ramothea, acting hub head for the tourist board, UK and Ireland, said the victory had given the whole country a positive vibe which she expects visitors to notice once they set foot in the country.
“What the World Cup did, more than as a destination but a country, is give us a much-needed uplift,” Ramothea said. “It raises hope and optimism and the conversation is different now. People are thinking if the Springboks can do it – win the World Cup – then it gives a lot of people in South Africa hope.
“Even [South Africa captain] Siya Kolisi was saying it feels like 1995 (the first time the country won the World Cup with Nelson Mandela’s support).
“He was the first black captain to win the World Cup, and it shows the opportunities are there.”
Ramothea added the tourist board was now actively marketing the Free State province in a bid to avoid overtourism in its more popular areas and give regular visitors somewhere new to visit.
The state is in the country’s interior, borders Lesotho and includes the Highland Mountains, which are popular with hikers.
The state is also known for its cultural attractions including Clarens, which is an artistic hub.
Elsewhere Ramothea said the decision by Club Med to open its first southern African resort in Durban in 2020 should further drive visitor numbers which reached 10.5 million in 2018, and are expected to grow to 11.3 million this year.
Other future drivers of traffic include MSC Cruises’ new terminal in Durban while the British and Irish Lions rugby tour is also anticipated to be a big visitor draw, especially now South Africa are world cup winners.