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The Embassy of South Africa in Paris, in cooperation with South Africa Tourism, organised a webinar on post-Covid South African tourism on Thursday 6 October 2022. The event was attended by H.E. Tebogo Seokolo, Ambassador of the Republic of South Africa to France, Ms Roxane Vergught, Account Manager at Interface Tourism France, Professor Nellie Swart, Associate Professor of Tourism Management at the University of South Africa, Mr Ian Utermohlen: Regional General Manager, South African Tourism and Ms Mathilde Lamberdiere, Managing Director at Akilanga.

The aim of the seminar was to share optimism about the recovery of tourism activity in South Africa and to consider how the French tourism industry can participate in this recovery.

South Africa is the largest tourism destination in Sub-Saharan Africa, welcoming more than 10 million tourist arrivals annually over the pre-pandemic period. Prior to the pandemic, the majority of tourists coming from countries outside of Africa came from Europe at approximately 65.1%, with France being the fifth leading country providing over 160 000 tourist visits in 2019 and 12 509 in January 2020 before the pandemic.

Stats SA’s numbers reveal that by June this year, South Africa had received about 2.28 million international visitors, well on track towards surpassing 2021’s full-year total of just over 2.3 million. This is a positive indication that full recovery of the sector is within reach by the end of 2022, but this will require concerted effort towards its revival.

Over the past two years, the tourism industry was severely impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic which had many disastrous effects on the economy and employment. Today, tourism has become one of the priorities of the country's reconstruction and economic recovery plan.

South Africa’s ‘live again’ campaign

With this objective in mind, South African tourism has launched, among other initiatives, a global advocacy marketing campaign, which invites visitors to come and ‘Live Again’ in South Africa. This campaign has intensified targeted communication on digital platforms to sell South Africa as a destination of choice and to invite the world to come and “‘live again’ with us”. “The goal is simple, albeit daunting under the circumstances - restore the sector to its pre-COVID-19 pinnacle and take it even higher. The aim is to use this to catapult South Africa’s tourism sector to the forefront of the country’s economic recovery effort and position South Africa as safe and secure destination”, explained Minister of Tourism, Ms Lindiwe Sisulu, on the day of the launching.

Thus, on 6 October, French players in the tourism industry were invited to contribute to the promotion of the South African destination. As we all know, South Africa is a country like no other. South Africa is one of the most diverse and enchanting countries in the world and a destination with something for everyone: nature, landscapes, sport, culture, business.... As Mathilde Lamberdiere, Managing Director at Akilanga recalled, it is a country with modern, well-maintained infrastructure and despite inflation, the rand/euro exchange rate remains stable and favourable to Europe.