South African tourism promoted at event in Bulgaria’s capital

There is untapped value regarding outbound tourism from Bulgaria to South Africa, the country’s ambassador Thabo Thage told an event in Bulgaria’s capital city attended by tour operators and media.

Thage said that the South African embassy in Sofia had distributed a questionnaire addressed to tour operators whose clients include Bulgarians and citizens of Serbia and North Macedonia travelling to South Africa.

The questionnaire was designed to establish the type of tourists that were interested in South Africa and why, and to see how the embassy – working with other agencies in South Africa – could be of better service to tour operators and tourists alike.

The responses had established that South Africa is seen as offering an unforgettable and authentic travel experience.

Most travellers to South Africa were impressed by the amazing friendliness, exceptional wine tourism, delicious gourmet, breathtaking beaches, picturesque landscapes, wildlife and shopping experience that South Africa offers, and South Africa is viewed as an exotic destination, providing sights and experiences not to be encountered elsewhere, according to the responses.

Like destinations across the world, the tourism industry in South Africa had been hard-hit by the travel restrictions resulting from the Covid-19 pandemic, though the industry is now on the mend, with South Africa returning as a popular destination now that global travel restrictions had been scrapped or eased.

A statue of Nelson Mandela at a large shopping mall in Sandton, Johannesburg.

In a live link from South Africa, Sadiq Dindar, marketing and promotions manager of South African Tourism, told the event that the country’s attractions were seen as including being an unforgettable experience, noted for its friendliness, diverse cuisine and as an exotic destination.

Each of the country’s nine provinces had its own appeal to offer to visitors, he said. Short videos showed diverse attractions in recreation, culture, safari and night life across the country.

Kruger National Park. At the presentation in Sofia, it was pointed out that the park is the same size as Switzerland.

Part of the appeal of South Africa was that after the pandemic, it offered so many opportunities to enjoy outdoor life, the event was told.

Penguins at Boulders Beach, Cape Town.

In a question and answer session after the presentation, a question was put about an advisory issued on March 9 by Bulgaria’s Foreign Ministry, saying that those wanting to visit South Africa should inquire in advance whether their hotel or guest house has a generator, and should bring torches and power bank battery chargers, given the regular power cuts – in official parlance, “load shedding” in South Africa.

Dindar said that most hotels had invested in generators so that the experience of travellers was not affected. Information about planned load shedding was shared on a daily basis, and tour operators looked at these schedules and planned accordingly, he said.

Thage said that in the 72 hours preceding the presentation, energy availability had improved and added that in President Cyril Ramaphosa’s recent cabinet reshuffle, he had appointed a Minister of Electricity specifically to deal with the load shedding issue.

It was expected that the situation was likely to be resolved by the end of this year and at the latest next year, Thage said, emphasising that resolving the situation was a priority for South Africa’s president. The new Minister of Electricity was visiting all the power stations to establish for himself the extent of the challenges faced. We will await his consolidated report to give us a better picture, Thage said.

More information about tourism opportunities in South Africa may be found at the website of South African Tourism.

(Main photo: Cape Town Waterfront)

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