The sector contributes about 9% to the country’s gross domestic product.
A total of 8 903 773 foreign tourists visited South Africa in 2015. Over 1,6 million local and international tourists visited the Kruger National Park in 2015, one of the favourite destinations. During the same year, government introduced far-reaching immigration regulations to combat child traffck- ing and improve security at South Africa’s points of entry.
According to research conducted by the National Convention Bureau, 40% of all convention delegates attending meetings in South Africa return in the next fve years as tourists, thus boosting tourism growth and job creation.
Tourism Month is celebrated annually in September with the aim of encouraging South Africans to explore their own country. It also provides the tourism industry with an opportunity for a sustained, heightened month-long focus on the importance of domestic tourism to the economy.
South African Tourism (SAT)
Business tourism has also increased, especially since the establishment of the country’s first South African National Convention Bureau (SANCB) as a business unit under South Africa Tourism (SAT).
SAT’s Sho’t Left marketing campaign for domestic tourists is already delivering results.
The "It’s Here, Vaya Mzansi" campaign is an industry-wide project that relies on collaboration and partnership from the wider industry for success and to grow domestic leisure travel to meet targets. SAT partnered with more than 50 tourism companies in South Africa to create discount vouch- ers ranging from tour-operator services, accommodation and experiences including wine tastings, canopy tours and hiking.
Tourism Enterprise Partnership (TEP)
TEP is a non-proft company that facilitates the growth, development and sustainability of small tourism businesses.
The Enterprise Development Programme will focus on the following areas: Enterprise Development Online Information Portal; Business Advisory Services; Tourism Incubator Hubs Establishment, and Stakeholder Engagement. There will also be continued support of 100 rural tourism enterprises with coaching and mentorship.
The Tourism Indaba held from 9 to 11 May 2015, provided an opportunity to showcase South Africa and its people.
The Department of Tourism and SAT held the Indaba at the Inkosi Albert Luthuli International Convention Centre in Durban.
The annual Tourism Indaba is one of the largest tourism marketing events in Africa and one of the top-three events of its kind in the world. It showcases a wide variety of southern Africa’s best tourism products and attracts international visitors and media from across the world.
This Pan-African event is a critical platform to promote local tourism products to the international market. It also supports the strategic vision of the National Tourism Sector Strategy to grow international arrivals to 15 million by 2020 and therefore create 225 000 new jobs.
Tourism Grading Council of South Africa (TGCSA)
Operating as a business unit of SAT, the TGCSA is the only recognised and globally credible quality assurance body for tourism products in South Africa.
The Western Cape is South Africa’s most developed tourism region.
The tourism industry in the province has grown faster and created more jobs than any other industry.
One in 10 employees in the Western Cape earns a living in the tourism industry, and it contributes more than R25 billion to the provincial economy.
- Table Mountain, which forms part of the Table Mountain National Park, is one of the official New Seven Wonders of Nature, following a lengthy international public voting process. A modern cableway takes visitors to the top of the mountain, providing spectacular views.
- The Victoria and Alfred (V&A) Waterfront, the Company’s Gardens, the District Six Museum, the houses of Parliament and the South African National Gallery.
- The Nelson Mandela Gateway to Robben Island is in the Clock Tower Precinct at the V&A Waterfront. It houses interactive multimedia exhibitions, an auditorium, boardrooms, the Robben Island Museum and a restaurant.
- The Gold of Africa Museum, established by Anglo Gold, houses a celebrated collection of more than 350 gold artefacts.
- The South African Rugby Museum in Newlands reflects the history of the sport as far back as 1891.
- All South African wine routes fall under the auspices of the Wine of Origin Scheme. Production is divided into official regions, districts and wards. There are five principle demarcations – Coastal, Breede River Valley, Little Karoo, Olifants River and Boberg – covering 21 districts and 61 wards.
- Jazz is big in Cape Town. From traditional blues through progressive jazz to African-influenced jazz, every taste is catered for at a number of restaurants, jazz cafés, cigar bars, pubs and wine farms. The top jazz event in the Western Cape is the annual Cape Town International Jazz Festival.
The Garden Route features the pont at Malgas, which is one of the two remaining ponts in the country, ferrying vehicles and livestock across the Breede River. This popular route spans roughly 200 km of South Africa’s southern coast, incorporating a picturesque stretch of coastline.
- Attequas Kloof Pass, South African/Anglo-Boer War blockhouses and the Bartolomeu Dias complex.
- Great Brak River offers a historic village with many opportunities for whale- and dolphin-watching along the extensive coast.
- The Slave Tree in George, located just outside the Old Library, was planted in 1811. It is known to be the biggest English oak in the Southern Hemisphere.
- Nearby, bungee-jumping at the Gouritz River Gorge, hiking, mountain-biking and angling are popular pastimes.
- The Point in Mossel Bay is popular among surfers and its natural pool formed by rock is also a favourite swimming spot at low tide.
- Genadendal is the oldest Moravian village in Africa, with church buildings and a school dating back to 1738. The Genadendal Mission and Museum complex documents the first mission station in South Africa.
- Villiersdorp houses the Dagbreek Museum that dates back to 1845. The historical home, Oude Radyn, is possibly the only building in the Western Cape to have Batavian wooden gutters and down pipes.
The Little Karoo’s fascinating landscape is fashioned almost entirely by water. Its vegetation ranges from lush greenery in the fertile river valleys to short, rugged Karoo plants in the veld. Gorges feature rivers that cut through towering mountains, while breathtakingly steep passes cross imposing terrain. The region is also home to the world’s largest bird – the ostrich.
- Excellent wines and port are produced in the Calitzdorp and De Rust areas.
- The Swartberg Nature Reserve and Pass with their gravel roads are also worth a visit.
- The Klein Karoo Nasionale Kunstefees (National Arts Festival) is held in Oudtshoorn annually.
- The Cango Caves, a series of 30 subterranean limestone caves, bear evidence of early San habitation and features magnificent dripstone formations.
- Amalienstein and Zoar are historic mission stations mid- way between Ladismith and Calitzdorp. Visitors can go on donkey-cart and hiking trails through orchards and vine- yards. The Seweweekspoort is ideal for mountain-biking, hiking, and protea and fynbos admirers.
The Big Hole in Kimberley is the largest hand-dug excavation in the world. In 1871, diamonds were discovered at the site and mined manually by prospectors.
- The house where Sol Plaatje (African National Congress founding member and human-rights activist) lived in Kimberley, has a library of Plaatje’s and other black South African writers’ works, and several displays, including a portrayal of black involvement in the South African/Anglo- Boer War.
- Known as the “Oasis of the Kalahari”, Kuruman is blessed with a permanent and abundant source of water that flows from Gasegonyana (Setswana for “the little water calabash”) – commonly called the “Eye of Kuruman” – which yields 20 million litres of water a day.
- The Wonderwerk Cave at Kuruman features extensive San paintings that may be viewed by appointment.
- The Kalahari Raptor Centre cares for injured birds. Many of these majestic creatures can be seen at close quarters.
- Upington is the commercial, educational and social centre of the Green Kalahari, owing its prosperity to agriculture and its irrigated lands along the Orange River. A camel-and-rider statue in front of the town’s police station pays tribute to the “mounties”, who patrolled the harsh desert territory on camels.
- In September 2013, the Kalahari Desert SpeedWeek was held at Hakskeen Pan, 200 km north of Upington.
- Namaqualand is famous for a spectacular annual show in spring when an abundance of wild flowers covers vast tracts of desert.
- Namaqualand is also home to the Ais-Ais/Richtersveld National Park. It is managed jointly by the local Nama people and South African National Parks.
- De Aar is the most important railway junction in South Africa. The author Olive Schreiner lived in the town for many years. Visitors can dine in her former house, which has been converted into a restaurant.
- Hanover is known for its handmade shoes and articles made mostly from sheepskin and leather.
This central region of South Africa is characterised by end-less rolling fields of wheat, sunflowers and maize, and forms the principal bread basket of South Africa.
- With its King’s Park Rose Garden containing more than 4 000 rose bushes, the Free State’s major city, Bloemfontein, has rightfully earned the nickname “City of Roses.” The city also hosts an annual rose festival.
- Bloemfontein has a busy cultural and social-events calendar. One of the annual events not to be missed is the Mangaung African Cultural Festival, popularly known as the Macufe Arts Festival, in September every year.
- The National Women’s Memorial commemorates the women and children who died in concentration camps during the Anglo-Boer/South African War.
- The Gariep Dam, more than 100 km long and 15 km wide, is part of the Orange River Water Scheme, the largest inland expanse of water in South Africa.
- Between the dam and Bethulie is the Gariep Dam Nature Reserve.
- Clocolan is known for the beauty of its cherry trees when they are in full bloom in spring. San rock paintings and engravings are also found in the area.
- The Llandaff Oratory in the nearby village of Van Reenen is believed to be the smallest Roman Catholic church in the world.
- At Harrismith, there are various memorials in honour of those who fought in the Anglo-Boer/South African War and World War I. Of particular interest is a memorial for the Scots Guards and Grenadier Guards.
- The Golden Gate Highlands National Park outside Clarens has beautiful sandstone rock formations.
- The Vredefort Dome, a World Heritage Site, is the oldest and largest meteorite impact site in the world. It was formed about two billion years ago when a giant meteorite hit Earth.
The main feature of the Eastern Cape is its magnificent coastline. Added to the diverse coastal experiences are more than 60 state-owned game reserves and over 30 private game farms, which collectively cover an area greater than the Kruger National Park.
- Within the Port Elizabeth there are some beautiful parks with well-landscaped gardens, including St George’s Park, which covers 73 ha and houses the famous Port Elizabeth Cricket Club, the oldest bowling green in South Africa; Prince Alfred’s Guard Memorial; the 1882 Victorian Pearson Conservatory; and the 54-ha Settlers’ Park.
- To the north-west of Graaff-Reinet lies the Valley of Desolation. The valley is a national monument within the Karoo Nature Reserve, formed millions of years ago by weathering erosion.
- Varied game reserves, including the Addo Elephant, Mountain Zebra and Mkambati parks.
- South Africa’s fi marine park, the Tsitsikamma National Park extends along a rocky coastline of 50 km, and 3 km out to sea.
- Southern right and humpback whales and their calves are regularly spotted from the high dunes, usually between May and November, while common and bottlenose dolphins are often seen close to shore.
The Limpopo landscape is made up of dramatic contrasts characterised by hot savanna plains and mist-clad mountains, age-old indigenous forests and cycads alongside modern plantations, and ancient mountain fortresses and the luxury of contemporary infrastructure and modern-day facilities.
- The Marakele National Park is home to some rare yellowwood and cedar trees and the world’s largest colony of Cape vultures. It is also a leader in the conservation of the black rhino outside of the Kruger National Park and the KwaZulu-Natal parks.
- Polokwane is considered the premier game-hunting destination in South Africa.
- The Mapungubwe Archaeological Site, 80 km west of Musina, lies within the boundaries of the Mapungubwe National Park. It is one of the richest of its kind in Africa and a world heritage site. Excavations in the 1930s uncovered a royal graveyard, which included a number of golden artefacts, including the famous gold-foil rhinoceros.
- The Kruger National Park (northern section) is one of South Africa’s major tourist attractions. The park is home to a large number and wide variety of amphibians, reptiles and birds, as well as 147 mammal species, including the Big Five.
North West has several cultural villages that entertain and attract visitors.
A number of excellent game reserves have been established, including the Pilanesberg National Park.
- The historic route of Mahikeng includes a South African/Anglo-Boer War siege site, the Molema House where Sol Plaatje lived while writing his Mafi Diary, and the Mahikeng Museum.
- The Groot Marico region is known as mampoer country and visitors can explore the Mampoer Route. The Kortkloof Cultural Village is dedicated to the Tswana people.
- Ottosdal is the only place in South Africa where the unique “wonderstone”, or pyrophyllite, is found and mined.
- The Ottosdal Night Race is organised in conjunction with the Diamond Marathon Club. The event consists of 42,2-km, 21,1-km,10-km races and a 5-km fun run.
- San rock engravings, Stone Age implements and structures are found on farms such as Witpoort, Gestoptefontein, Driekuil and Korannafontein.
The climate and topography vary from cool highland grass- lands at 1 600 m above sea level, through the middleveld and escarpment, to the subtropical Lowveld towards the Kruger National Park and many private game reserves. Scenic beauty, climate and wildlife, voted the most attractive features of South Africa, are found in abundance in this province.
- Barberton features many reminders of the early gold-rush era. Museums include Belhaven, Fernlea House and Stopforth House. The only known verdite deposits in the world are found in the rocks of the Barberton district. The annual Diggers Festival is held in September every year.
- The spectacular Blyde River Canyon is a 26-km-long gorge carved out of the face of the escarpment, and is one of the natural wonders of Africa. God’s Window provides a magnificent panoramic view across miles of densely forested mountains, the green Lowveld and the canyon.
- Sabie is the centre of the largest man-made forest in South Africa and a popular destination among mountain bikers. The Cultural Historical Forestry Museum depicts various aspects of the country’s forestry industry.
- The Bridal Veil, Horseshoe and Lone Creek waterfalls, and Mac Mac pools and falls just outside Sabie are well worth a visit.
- The 69-km Prospector’s Trail starts at the Mac Mac Forest Station and leads to the Bourke’s Luck potholes.
- At the Montrose Falls in Schoemanskloof, the Crocodile River cascades 12 m into a series of rock pools. It is also the starting point of the annual Lowveld Crocodile Canoe Marathon, held in February every year.
- The region also holds rich historical sentiments centred on the monument of the late Mozambican President Samora Machel, constructed in the village of Mbuzini.
Gauteng is characterised by a cosmopolitan mix of people from all walks of life.
- Natural areas include the Suikerbosrand Nature Reserve (Heidelberg); Braamfontein Spruit Trust, The Wilds on Houghton and the Klipriviersberg Nature Reserve in Johannesburg; the Kloofendal Nature Reserve and Walter Sisulu Botanical Gardens (in Roodepoort); and the National Botanical Garden, Smuts House Museum, and Freedom Park in Pretoria; as well as the Tswaing Crater Trail.
- A team of Lippizaner stallions performs every Sunday at the South African National Horsemanship Centre in Kyalami.
- The Sterkfontein caves near Krugersdorp are the site of the discovery of the skull of the famous Mrs Ples, an estimated 2,5-million-year-old hominid fossil; and Little Foot, an almost complete hominid skeleton of more than 3,3 million years old.
- The Constitution Hill Precinct is set to become one of South Africa’s most popular landmarks.
- A guided tour of Soweto leaves a lasting impression of this vast community’s life and struggle against apartheid.
- The Apartheid Museum in Johannesburg tells the story of the legacy of apartheid through photographs, fi and artefacts.
- The Nelson Mandela Centre of Memory opened its doors to the public following the death of former President Nel- son Mandela, in December 2013.
- The Union Buildings celebrated its centenary in 2013. Designed by Sir Herbert Baker, construction started in 1910 and was completed in 1913. It has since been the setting for the presidential inauguration of former President Nelson Mandela in 1994, as well as those of former President Thabo Mbeki on 16 June 1999, and 27 April 2004, and of President Jacob Zuma on 9 May 2009, and 24 May 2014. It is also the setting of many national celebrations, including Women’s Day and Freedom Day.
- In December 2013, a bronze statue of former President Mandela was unveiled at the Union Buildings.
- The National Zoological Gardens in Pretoria is considered one of the 10 best in the world.
- The old mining town of Cullinan is where the world’s biggest diamond, the 3 106-carat Cullinan diamond, was found.
One of the country’s most popular tourist destinations, the province stretches from Port Edward in the south to the borders of Swaziland and Mozambique to the north.
- The Durban area has more than 50 reserves, developed parks and specialised gardens, the most renowned being the Municipal Botanical Garden. Besides the botanical gardens, Mitchell Park is one of the most popular green spaces, which includes an outdoor restaurant, a zoo and a playground for children.
- Annual events in and around the city include the popular Comrades Marathon between Durban and Pietermaritzburg, an international surfing competition, the Duzi canoe marathon, the Midmar Mile, Dolphin Mile open water swimming events, the July Handicap horse-race, the Amashova-shova cycle tour, and the Spar Mercury Ladies 10 km Challenge.
- The Weza State Forest in East Griqualand runs through indigenous forests and commercial plantations. The forest is home to several antelope species and a huge variety of birds.
- St Lucia and its surroundings comprises the iSimangaliso Wetland Park that have five separate ecosystems. It is a fishing and bird watching paradise. Boat trips on the lake offer opportunities for crocodile and hippo sightings. The Kosi Bay Nature Reserve is part of the Coastal Forest Reserve between Mozambique and Sodwana Bay.
- The Hluhluwe-Umfolozi Park, one of the largest game parks in South Africa, is home to the Big Five, as well as cheetah and wild dogs.
- The Battlefield Route in northern KwaZulu-Natal has the highest concentration of battlefields and related military sites in South Africa.
- The Midlands Meander is a scenic drive between Hilton and Mooi River, with some 430 art studios, potters and painters, to herb gardens and cheese makers.
- Midmar Dam is zoned for yachting and power-boating. The 1 000-ha Midmar Game Park has rhino, zebra, a wide variety of antelope species and waterfowl.
Top-10 reasons to visit South Africa
- Affordable - In South Africa, you can even afford luxury and have spending money for shopping and other treats.
- Natural beauty - South Africa’s scenic wonders are legendary. From Table Mountain to God’s Window, the mountains, forests, coasts and deserts will sooth your soul and delight you.
- World-class facilities - You will fnd it easy to get around, fnd a comfortable place to stay and have a great meal.
- Adventure - South Africa is the adventure capital of the world. With over 130 adventures, there is something for everyone from mountain walks to shark-cage diving.
- Good weather - In sunny South Africa with a great weather, you can enjoy the outdoors, play golf year-round and take advantage of the nearly 3 000 km coastline.
- Rainbow Nation - The Rainbow Nation celebrates all its African and immigrant cultures. South Africans are known for their friendliness and hospitality.
- Diverse experiences - Go almost anywhere in South Africa and experience the ultimate combination of nature, wildlife, culture, adventure, heritage and good vibe.
- Wildlife - The ubundant and diverse wildlife include the Big Five (African lion, African elephant, Cape buffalo, African leopard and black rhinoceros).
- Freedom Struggle - Discover a nation’s struggle for freedom whilst following the footsteps of Nelson Mandela, Hector Pieterson and many other celebrated revolutionaries.
- Responsible tourism - In South Africa you can travel with care as you explore protected areas, contribute to social and conservation projects, and collect arts and crafts.