It was there that Tourism Minister Derek Hanekom announced that Chinese Ambassador Lin Songtian’s vision was to increase the number of Chinese tourists to South Africa from 100 000 to half a million annually.
This was roundly applauded as a way to inject much-needed foreign currency into the economy and grow the tourism sector.
It was no accident that Hanekom was invited as the keynote speaker and Deputy Director-General of Home Affairs Jackie Mackay as one of the guests of honour at the head table.
Hanekom told the media at the event: “There are 140million Chinese travelling abroad annually, but only 100000 came to South Africa last year. We need to make it easier for Chinese tourists to come here. We have just signed a visa simplification agreement with China and agreed to 10-year multiple entry visas. The goal is to have a five-day turnaround time, as well as to introduce an e-visa system in South Africa."