Jonty going to bat for SA tourism

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File photo: Legendary cricketer Jonty Rhodes is to promote South Africa in a campaign in India. Picture: Debbie Yazbek

Durban - Legendary cricketer Jonty Rhodes is to promote South Africa in a campaign in India, Minister of Tourism Marthinus van Schalkwyk said in Durban.

From April, Rhodes will be fielding for South African Tourism (SAT) as the country’s marketing body launches its latest drive to boost the number of Indian tourists to the country.

SAT has promoted the country for more than seven years, and identified India as a core market three years ago, Van Schalkwyk told 900 visiting Indian travel agents holding their convention at the Durban ICC.

The visitors heard that there had been a six percent increase in the number of Indian visitors holidaying in South Africa since 2010, and Van Schalkwyk said that from January to September last year, the country attracted 79 000 Indian tourists, which was an 18 percent increase on the previous year. Each tourist spent on average R12 000.

“Our goal is to break through the 100 000 arrivals mark by 2014,” he said.

South Africa and India shared a rich history nurtured by mutual respect, which now extended deep into trade and business, he said. Both countries shared a passion for sports, with cricket being the common denominator.

SAT was training more than 1 000 travel agents and tour operators in India to sell South Africa to customers, he said.

Hanneli Slabber, head of SAT in India, who is in Durban for the convention, said Rhodes was an official brand ambassador for South Africa in India, where he was also the fielding coach for the Mumbai Indians Indian Premier League team.

In the new campaign, winning contestants will fly to South Africa where the cricketer will act as their tour guide, showing them wildlife, adventure, experiences and destinations – including some in KZN.

The visiting agents are members of the Travel Agents Federation of India, responsible for more than 75 percent of outbound tourism.

Having been exposed to tourist attractions in the city and the province during convention tours, it is expected that they will go home and sell South Africa, resulting in a boost in tourist numbers. - Daily News

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