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America an ever-growing market for tourism to South Africa

A substantial amount of tourism marketing in North America for South Africa has followed in the wake of the FIFA 2010 World Cup South Africa, generating unprecedented interest in this holiday destination.
(Image: Wikimedia Commons)
(Image: Wikimedia Commons)
"Our biggest month ever was in September 2010, two months after the World Cup final," says Lucille Sive, president of Lion World Tours, one of the leading North American travel agencies that specialise in holidays to Africa.

"The World Cup certainly gave people a good perspective of South Africa, and it persuaded many people who were undecided about visiting the country, to give it a try. Now is the time to build on this wonderful momentum."

Lion World Tours, which has offices in Toronto, Edmonton, New York, Atlanta, Fort Lauderdale and San Diego, has for over 40 years specialised in group and individual tours to Southern and East Africa, as well as Egypt. Lion World Tours has become one of North America's largest agencies for this exotic continent, and is now one of South African Airways' largest consolidators.

Top award

America an ever-growing market for tourism to South Africa
The company, a member of the South African-owned Travel Corporation group of companies, recently garnered SA Tourism's Ubuntu Award for the Top Producing Tour Operator - winning it for the second time in a row. The award was presented to Sive at a function in New York, attended by South African Tourism Minister Marthinus van Schalkwyk and South African Ambassador to the US Ebrahim Rasool.

The World Cup was a strong indicator of North Americans' interest in South Africa as a destination. In fact, the largest block of tournament tickets sold outside Africa - more than 125 000 in total - was snapped up by North Americans.

US visits to South Africa jumped by more than 52 063 to 282 377 in 2010, an increase of 22.6% from 2009, on the back of the World Cup. Similarly, visits by Canadians jumped by 21.9%, from 45 330 in 2009 to 55 263 last year.
Also, 24.3 million Americans watched the tournament's final, making it the most-watched football game in US television history.

A stunning showcase for SA

However, it is not just the football that has had Americans and Canadians turning their attention to South Africa, says Sive.
"Now is the time to build on the wonderful momentum created by the World Cup,” says Lucille Sive, president of Lion World Tours.
"Now is the time to build on the wonderful momentum created by the World Cup,” says Lucille Sive, president of Lion World Tours.
"For example, the finale of the latest season of the hit reality show The Bachelor, comprising two two-hour specials, was shot at Lion Sands in Mpumalanga and in Cape Town. It was a stunning showcase for South Africa, and resulted in an immediate spike in interest in the country.

"Apart from specifically marketing South Africa around the finale for The Bachelor, our parent company, Travel Corporation, is also SA Tourism's biggest joint marketing partner. We believe that this is a most worthwhile investment; by assisting SA Tourism to promote South Africa as a destination, we draw more visitors to the sub-continent and create a win-win situation for both South Africa and ourselves," says Sive.

At the Ubuntu Awards ceremony, Van Schalkwyk pointed out that tourism currently makes up 8% of South Africa's GDP. The goal is double that figure and attract 15 million tourist arrivals by 2020, so that tourism generates income of around R500 billion (US$73 billion) and creates 225 000 new job opportunities.
"The Minister stated clearly that South Africa remains committed to public-private partnerships to achieve this ambitious target.
This augurs well for travel companies such as ours, which have signalled their own commitment to South Africa through marketing partnerships with SA Tourism," says Sive.

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