JOHANNESBURG – South Africa's national tourism agency is set to conduct a roadshow for the first time in Istanbul, Turkey, to create platforms for access to that market, it said on Thursday.

The January 30 roadshow will provide 11 operators, including small, medium and micro-enterprises, an opportunity to engage with approximately 50 specially selected Middle East and Turkish travel trade companies, South African Tourism said in a statement.

It will the 23rd East Mediterranean International Tourism & Travel exhibition in Instabul, at which SA Tourism and trade partner will participate.

"Turkey is a strategically important market to SA Tourism as it is a springboard to the rest of the Middle East, India, and South East Asia region," SA Tourism said.

Factors that make South Africa an attractive destination for Turkish visitors include the fact that there are no visa requirements for travellers from both ends, and for Turkish tourists there is favourable airlift, said Sthembiso Dlamini, SA Tourism’s chief operating officer.

"This means there are direct flights from Turkey to South Africa with Turkish Airlines coupled with a sufficient number of frequencies offered by other airlines," Dlamini said.

"This has led to 12 139 Turkish tourist arrivals between January and October 2018, a 2.4 percent increase from the previous year."

Studies show that Turkish families visit South Africa for the culture, scenic beauty, beaches and safaris, while young tourists tend to be drawn by action and adventure tours.

Halaal tourism is also a factor. Since most Turkish travellers are Muslim, South Africa is well positioned to cater to their needs through a wide array of halaal restaurants and eateries across all nine provinces.

South Africa was ranked among the top 10 most Muslim-friendly travel destinations for 2018 by the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation in the annual MasterCard-Crescent Rating Global Muslim Travel Index.

African News Agency (ANA)